blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Queen of Romance – Liz Jones*

The first biography of the bestselling author and journalist Marguerite Jervis Daughter of an officer of the Indian Medical Corps, Florence Laura Jarvis (1886 – 1964) was born in Marguerite Burma and became one of the most successful novelists of her time .

During the course of her 60-year career, Marguerite published over 150 books, with 11 novels adapted for film, including The Pleasure Garden (1925), the directorial debut of Alfred Hitchcock. In her heyday she sold hundreds of thousands of novels, but is now largely forgotten; under numerous pseudonyms she wrote for newspapers, women’s magazines and the silent movie screen; she married one of Wales most controversial literary figures, Caradoc Evans.

She also trained as an actress and was a theatrical impresario. Known variously as Mrs Caradoc Evans, Oliver Sandys, Countess Barcynska and many other pseudonyms, who was she really?

Liz Jones has dug deep beneath the tale told in Marguerite Jervis’s own somewhat romanticised memoir to reveal what made this driven and determined woman. And what turned her from a spoilt child of the English middle classes to a workaholic who could turn her hand to any literary endeavour and who became a runaway popular success during the most turbulent years of the 20th century.

Liz Jones writes drama and creative non-fiction, reviews, short stories and journalism ranging from Take a Break to New Welsh Review. Along the way she has raised two daughters, tried to change the world, worked in a café-cum-bookshop, a housing association, in community development and lifelong learning. She is now a Teaching Fellow at Aberystwyth University.

My thoughts: this was a really interesting book. I hadn’t heard of Marguerite Jarvis or any of her aliases. Even studying English Literature for years, she never crossed my path as a writer. Which is a shame. Her life was more interesting than fiction. She reinvented herself so many times, as a writer, a “countess”, a theatre owner. Her books were made into films during the silent era, and then adapted into plays for her theatre company.

I really enjoyed learning about this interesting and colourful woman, her life, marriages and work. Her devotion to her last husband, Welsh writer Caradoc Evans, and her son Nicholas meant she never stopped writing, desperate for money to support them. It’s a shame her books seem to be hard to get hold of these days, yes I looked, as while they’re not particularly fashionable, they’re a part of literary history.

*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 Ladies Midnight Swimming Club – Faith Hogan*

Three women. Three different stages of life. United by one thing: the chance to start again.

‘Uplifting, emotional and brimming with warmth and humour’ – Cathy Bramley

When Elizabeth’s husband dies, leaving her with crippling debt, the only person she can turn to is her friend, Jo. Soon Jo has called in her daughter, Lucy, to help save
Elizabeth from bankruptcy. Leaving her old life behind, Lucy is determined to make the most of her fresh start.
As life slowly begins to return to normal, these three women, thrown together by circumstance, become fast friends. But then Jo’s world is turned upside down when she receives some shocking news.
In search of solace, Jo and Elizabeth find themselves enjoying midnight dips in the freezing Irish Sea. Here they can laugh, cry and wash away all their fears. As well as conjure a fundraising plan for the local hospice that will bring the whole community together…

From bestselling Irish writer Faith Hogan, The Ladies’ Midnight Swimming Club is an emotional story about finding new friends and living life to the fullest, that will appeal to fans of Sheila O’Flanagan, Heidi Swain and Liz Fenwick.

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Bookshop.org Waterstones Easons (Ireland only):


Faith Hogan is an Irish award-winning and bestselling author of five contemporary fiction novels. Her books have featured as Book Club Favorites, Net Galley Hot Reads and Summer Must Reads. She writes grown up women’s fiction which is
unashamedly uplifting, feel good and inspiring.
She is currently working on her next novel. She lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, four children and a very busy Labrador named Penny. She’s a writer, reader, enthusiastic dog walker and reluctant jogger – except of course when it is raining!

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My thoughts: this was a lovely, heartwarming story of family and friendship. Do have the tissues handy as there is a weepy bit.

Set in a small village in Western Ireland, the story revolves around the recently widowed Elizabeth and her friend Jo, the founder of the Ladies’ Midnight Swimming Club. As Elizabeth adjusts to her new life, Jo’s daughter and grandson move to the village, looking to make a change.

I loved the characters, Elizabeth experiences a late blossoming after her husband dies and finds a new purpose, Jo is a delight, always full of joy. Lucy, Jo’s daughter, is a great addition to their gang and the other characters, Dan and Niall, are always interesting.

The story is sweet and enjoyable, the women’s friendships, Niall’s coming out of his shell and Dan’s journey are all tender and touching.

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

books, reviews

Guest Post: Paul Maunder on writing The Atomics and my review!

Today author Paul Maunder has kindly written about his experience writing new book The Atomics and I’ve been lucky enough to have read it (Thank you Lightning Books for my copy). My review follows after Paul’s essay. Enjoy!

A GOTHIC STORY OF MADNESS, REVENGE AND URANIUM-235
Midsummer, 1968. When Frank Banner and his wife Gail move to the Suffolk coast to work at a newly built nuclear power station, they are hoping to leave violence and pain behind them.
Gail wants a baby but Frank is only concerned with spending time in the gleaming reactor core of the Seton One power station. Their new neighbours are also ‘Atomics’ – part of the power station community. But Frank takes a dislike to the boorish, predatory Maynard. And when the other man begins to pursue a young woman who works in the power station’s medical centre, Frank decides to intervene.
As the sun beats relentlessly upon this bleak landscape, his demons return. A vicious and merciless voice tells him he has an obligation to protect the young woman and Frank knows just how to do it. Radiation will make him stronger, radiation will turn him into a hero…

A Productive Mid-Life Crisis

My winding path to publishing The Atomics

Paul Maunder

When I started writing fiction in my early twenties, I had no idea what I was doing. I’m sure many fiction writers will recognise that feeling, but my ignorance ran especially deep. Throughout my teenage years I was engaged in, obsessed by, cycle racing. My dream was to win the Tour de France not the Man Booker Prize. I read nothing but cycling magazines. But cycle racing is a cruel sport; I discovered the sizeable gap between my ambition and my ability, and at eighteen, tempted by the opportunity to reinvent myself at university, I gave up the lycra. 

At university I studied politics. Literature was only a very faint beep on the edge of my radar screen. I still wasn’t reading novels (I was barely reading the politics books required for my course), yet in the third year, when allowed to choose a course from another department, I went for an English Literature course about the American city. Perhaps that was the first glimmer of an interest in books, though I was too busy organising raves and other nefarious pursuits to really think about it.

The crucial moment came in the summer after leaving university. A friend lent me his copy of American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. I read it quickly and was absorbed, appalled, exhilarated. It was not the sex and violence that attracted me but the idea of what a novel could be. It was so different to my preconception of what constituted ‘literature’. Immediately I thought, I can do that. And I started doing just that.

It only took a few days for me to realise that I could not do anything remotely like that. But by then the addiction had taken hold. I was a writer. I knew that with absolute certainty. 

Over the following two decades I wrote five novels, plus a couple of false starts. I enrolled on the MA in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, where I studied with Andrew Motion. I consumed books on the craft of writing and ploughed my way through dozens of novels. My ignorance about literature had allowed me to start writing without the sense of inadequacy that cripples many aspiring writers who know what a good book is. I saw this happening in my MA classes – the older, more experienced readers in the group would produce ten pages of prose but condemn their own work because it didn’t live up to their idea of what they should be producing. I had no benchmarks so I arrogantly thought that everything I produced was top-notch. 

I inched towards publication. Each novel I wrote was better than the last. I could always turn out a few pages of half-decent prose, but my downfall lay in bigger, structural issues. Plot, or lack thereof. Story, ditto. Characters that didn’t live and breathe. I submitted to literary agents and endured the slow drip of rejection letters. 

In the year that I turned forty I signed with a fantastic literary agent, one of those big names in the industry who commands respect from publishers. I had a novel set in the Second World War that felt ready, and a couple of editors were interested. I felt certain this was the moment I would drag myself across the line (I still had the arrogance of self-belief). The editors passed. My agent encouraged me to redraft the book, and I got lost in a maze of rewriting that I didn’t really understand or believe in. I lost sight of what the book was about. By the eighteenth draft I was left with a big mess.

I gave up. Switched to journalism and non-fiction. Published two books – with relative ease – about cycling. This was my mid-life crisis, more sedate and productive than buying a sports car or having an affair. Writing non-fiction required me to pull together a lot of information then build a story out of it that would, hopefully, engage the reader and keep them turning the pages. That transformed the way I looked at fiction. 

My earlier novels had been filled with all the strange and disparate ideas that had been floating around my head at that particular time – Cornish independence movements, custom coffin-makers, mobile libraries, dance music, Dad’s Army. The books had a facetious, too-clever tone. They didn’t hang together as stories, and there was no emotional truth at their core. Writing non-fiction taught me the importance of story, above all else. And the importance of considering the reader at all times. Previously I’d thought that whatever I wrote would be so perceptive, so insightful, that any sensible reader would be impressed. Now I understood just how daft that position was.

When I started The Atomics I focused on story and character. Create real characters, tell their story. That was my mantra. Now the book is about to be published by Lightning Books. I got there, eventually.

The Atomics by Paul Maunder is published by Lightning Books on May 3rd  

My thoughts: this was a really interesting book about a man slowing unravelling while working at a nuclear reactor and living in a small, intense community in a remote part of Suffolk.

There’s a sense of claustrophobia and a sort of incestuousness, the employees and their families seem to only socialise with each other, and Alice, who’s from the local community feels like something of an outsider.

Frank is seriously disturbed following the events that drive him from Oxford, and this leads him to do some terrible things. He’s also convinced that the uranium used at the plant is gifting him powers, as opposed to making him ill. The quiet desperation of his wife, Gail, increases as his mania does.

I found the growing violence and strangeness in Frank fascinating but also repelling, the voice in his head is menacing but also seductive in its desire for destruction.

Alice and Gail are also interesting – neither really belong in the village, even though Alice grew up there. Both want things their current lives won’t give them and don’t really know how to get them.

Thank you to Lightning Books for my review copy and Paul for sharing his experiences with us.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Things to do Before the End of the World – Emily Barr*

A timely and powerful coming-of-age thriller from the bestselling author of The One Memory of Flora Banks.

What would you do when you hear the news that humans have done such damage to the earth that there might only be a limited amount of safe air left – a year’s worth at most?
You’d work through your bucket list, heal rifts, do everything you’ve never been brave enough to do before?

Olivia is struggling to do any of this. What it is she truly wants to do? Who do she wants to be?

Then out of the blue comes contact from a long-lost cousin Olivia didn’t even know existed. Natasha is everything Olivia wants to be and more. And as the girls meet up for a long, hot last summer, Olivia finds Natasha’s ease and self-confidence having an effect on her.

But Natasha definitely isn’t everything she first appears to be . . .

My thoughts: this was an interesting take on all the apocalypse fiction around at the moment – instead of a plague, the permafrost has melted releasing tons of carbon dioxide into the air, basically suffocating the world. But before that happens, people are going all out.

Libby heads to Spain with her mum and stepdad for a once in a lifetime (literally, the world ends in a month) holiday. Where they’re joined by her estranged cousin Natasha. Who isn’t entirely who she claims to be.

Hijinks ensue and Libby winds up in Paris, where things start to unravel. Can she make it home before the air runs out?

I liked Libby, I liked her determination to do things “one day”, I recognised that feeling. She was a lot stronger and more able than she felt, and as her confidence grew and she started to come out of her shell, she became more interesting and 3D.

Natasha was an interesting foil to Libby’s innocence and book smarts, with her street hustler skills and devil may care attitude, but she’s definitely not likeable. Her “take what you can” ways are cruel and manipulative, I like to think she gets her comeuppance at some point for the way she tricks people.

As someone who would die quite early in this world ending scenario (hello asthma!) I was intrigued by the idea of everyone being smothered. What about the carbon sinks? I was reading about the peat moors the other day and how they can hold an insane amount of carbon. Wouldn’t a lot of it escape into the outer atmosphere? I wish the science had been a little clearer but I suppose that like Libby and her family I wouldn’t necessarily want all the gory details about how we’re all going to 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.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Hit and Run – Maria Frankland*

Read my reviews of the author’s previous titles; The Last Cuckoo, The Man Behind Closed Doors , Left Hanging & The Yorkshire Dipper

He took his dark secrets and lies to his grave…


Fiona keeps herself to herself – it is safer that way. She allows few people to get close, having learned the hard way that most have their own agendas.

Lowering her barriers and trusting her husband Rob, is a decision she has reason to regret. His indiscretions were coming to light even before the news of his hit and run killing one summer afternoon.

In the aftermath, blame and hostility is shown to her by many. The relationship with her mother is unravelling and she has shut herself away from any friends she once had. Who can she turn to? Who will believe her? Other than her son Jack and her father, there is nobody she can count on.

Can Fiona stay away from her oldest and most faithful friend, the bottle? Or is her life as over as her husband’s?

Only the truth of Rob’s untimely death can decide that.

Amazon

Maria Frankland’s life began at 40 when she escaped an unhappy marriage and began making a living from her own writing and becoming a teacher of creative writing.

The rich tapestry of life with all its turbulent times has enabled her to pour experience, angst and lessons learned into the writing of her novels and poetry.

She recognises that the darkest places can exist within family relationships and this is reflected in the domestic thrillers she writes.

She is a ‘born ‘n’ bred’ Yorkshirewoman, a mother of two and has recently found her own ‘happy ever after’ after marrying again.

Still in her forties, she is now going to dedicate the rest of her working life to writing books and inspiring other writers to also achieve their dreams too!

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My thoughts:

As is probably obvious from the fact that this is the fifth title I’ve reviewed, I really enjoy Maria Frankland’s dark, clever thrillers, featuring ordinary people whose lives get completely turned inside out.

In this case it’s Fiona, a wife and mother, recovering alcoholic and daughter of warring parents herself, whose life is suddenly flipped upside down after her husband Rob is killed in a hit and run.

As the police investigate, Fiona finds herself the number one suspect, but Rob had a lot of secrets and she’s sure one of those will eventually lead to his real killer. Meanwhile she’s trying to hold it all together for her young son, and resist the urge to throw away her sobriety.

Fiona is a likeable protagonist, naive and perhaps a little overly trusting, but her love for her family is genuine and her determination to find out what Rob was keeping from her is a powerful motivator to keep going.

*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: Bovine Tricks – Seelie Kay*

Lady Annabelle Trask is missing. Unfortunately, MI6 doesn’t know if they’re looking for a woman, a cow, or something in between!

Is it real or is it fantasy? That’s the question MI6 Agent Mathilda Honoria Spencer struggles with on her latest assignment. Tasked with discovering the whereabouts of Lady Annabelle Trask, Tillie is thrust into the world of Hucows and other human animals. It’s a world that raises serious questions about sexual fetishes, intentional physical enhancements, and even pornography, but in the end, Tillie has only one mission—to rescue and return Lady Annabelle to the Queen. However, as she and her partner, Agent Abdul Ali, attempt to find Lady Annabelle and keep her out of the clutches of terrorists bent on destroying the monarchy, they must also wrestle with their feelings for each other. Can they draw the line between their duty to the Crown and their relationship with one another? Or must they embark on separate paths to continue to serve the Queen?



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Award-winning author Seelie Kay writes about lawyers in love, sometimes with a dash of kink.

Writing under a nom de plume, the former lawyer and journalist draws her stories from more than 30 years in the legal world. Seelie’s wicked pen has resulted in nineteen works of fiction, including the new paranormal romance series Donovan Trait, as well the erotic romance Kinky Briefs series and The Feisty Lawyers romantic suspense series. She also authored The Last Christmas, The Garage Dweller, A Touchdown to Remember, The President’s Wife, The President’s Daughter, Seizing Hope, The White House Wedding, and participated in the romance anthology Pieces of Us.

When not spinning romantic tales, Seelie ghostwrites nonfiction for lawyers and other professionals. Currently, she resides in a bucolic exurb outside Milwaukee, WI, where she enjoys opera, the Green Bay Packers, gourmet cooking, organic gardening, and an occasional bottle of red wine. 

Seelie is an MS warrior and ruthlessly battles the disease on a daily basis. Her message to those diagnosed with MS: Never give up. You define MS, it does not define you!
Website * Blog * Twitter * Facebook * Instagram * Author’s Amazon Page

Read an Excerpt from Bovine Tricks

Harun stood and hugged his brother. Then he turned to Tillie. His gaze was steady, but his eyes were cold. “Forgive me if I cannot give you a similarly warm welcome, but my wife and I have not yet recovered from the brutal attack on our daughter.”

“Harun.” Marianne Benson spoke softly, but her gaze was fierce. “I believe Hope and the Agency have settled the matter. You don’t need to pursue it further.” She turned to Abdul and smiled. “I am pleased to see you, Abdul.” She cocked an eyebrow. “Though for a while there, the rumor was that you had gone rogue and were dancing with the devil.”

Abdul laughed. “I may dance with the devil occasionally, but that does not mean he owns my soul. I am still slaving away for the Queen.” He smiled at Mari. “Thank you for coming so quickly.”

“Well, it’s hard to ignore a summons from the Queen, and when your husband has a plane, it is much easier to respond quickly.” Mari motioned to the chairs at the table. “Please sit. Let’s get down to business. It was made clear that time was of the essence.”

Everyone sat, and Mari walked over to a control panel set into a console. She pushed a button, and a whiteboard lit up. “As you know, after we rescued the people off Flight Eight Seven Zero and The Mars were prosecuted, Dianna and Anders interviewed them extensively at Guantanamo Bay. We were able to collect a considerable amount of information on the organization, its members, and its financing.”

Twelve photos appeared on the screen. “These are the current members of Marwolaeth I’r Frenhines. Six are incarcerated at Guantanamo, three have been released, and three are recruits.”

Tillie leaned forward and studied the faces. It always amazed her how normal terrorists appeared. There was nothing in their faces to indicate that they were evil. Most were smiling in their photos. However, the tell was in the eyes. They were stone cold.

Mari pointed at the photos of those recently released. “These three have been fairly quiet. We could not detect any significant communication or contact between them and the new members, which makes me think this may be a new group that merely adopted the name.” She brought up a few more photos. “These gentlemen are believed to be the financiers of the new order.”

Tillie studied the group and gasped. “But that’s a former member of Parliament.”

Harun nodded. “And someone who wishes to dissolve the Monarchy. Apparently, he has put his money where his mouth is.” Another screen popped up. A bank statement.

Abdul cleared his throat. “Fifty million pounds? That’s pretty significant. Has this been verified?”

Harun gazed at Abdul. “I’m afraid so. We have transfers to the account, bank acknowledgments, and proof the newest members of The Mars have been drawing on these funds.”

Mari pulled up another screen. “Though we were a little puzzled by their purchases until now. We thought they had gone into farming.” She pointed at an invoice. “Everything you need to raise a cow, or in this case, a human cow.”

Tillie hugged herself and shuddered. “Lady Annabelle is most certainly in their sights.”

Mari gazed at her husband and nodded. Harun opened a file he had set in front of him. “Apparently, it is much worse. There were also several purchases for the care of an infant. Either Lady Annabelle is pregnant, or they intend to impregnate her.”

Abdul slammed his fist on the table. “Bloody hell. A royal baby? The Queen would move heaven and earth to protect her own blood. What a crafty way to manipulate her for their own purposes. She would be damned no matter how she responded. That could end the monarchy.”

Tillie stood. “I think I’m going to be sick.”

Giveaway: – 2 eBook Copies of Martimus (Feisty Lawyers Book 5)- eBook Copy of Bovine Tricks (Royals Gone Rogue #1)

My thoughts: this was a bit strange, the human cows aka hucows thing was creepy and weird but if you can think of it, there’s probably somebody who’s into it I suppose!

Apart from that it was quite a fun read, the agents of MI6 are determined to crack the case, even if they have to work with the Americans. Was Lady Annabelle really kidnapped or did she voluntarily get involved with the disturbing world of animal human hybrids? I liked Tillie and her utter eye rolling disbelief at how some people get their kicks and especially the super rich.

*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: All My Lies – Sophie Flynn*

Anna wants to escape. She doesn’t know when her marriage to James began to feel like a trap or when he became so controlling. All she knows is that she needs to leave before it’s too late. And she has a plan.

When Anna reconnects with her childhood sweetheart, Sam, she sees it as the answer to her problems. Finally, they’ll have a life together, like they’d always planned – the life she was meant to have. But the lies are catching up with her . . .

On the morning of their escape, Sam goes missing. Anna knows he wouldn’t leave her, that something must have happened to him. Her search for answers will force her to confront her past, something that she has been running from for a very long time . . .

Sophie Flynn is a Cotswolds based psychological thriller author with an MA in Creative Writing from Oxford Brookes. Alongside writing, Sophie is the Head of Marketing at Jericho Writers. After being awarded a place at Swanwick Writers’ Summer School on the TopWrite scheme for young writers in 2017, Sophie began writing short fiction. She has since had many stories published and placed in competitions with organisations s uch as Writing Magazine and The Cheltenham Literature Festival.

When not writing, Sophie can mostly be found on muddy walks with her husband and rescue dog or disappearing to Cornwall whenever possible. She is represented by Kate Nash of Kate Nash Literary Agency.

To find out more, visit her website or follow her on Twitter.

My thoughts:

Everyone in this story seems to be telling lies – Anna, Sam, James, Sue, Louise, Rosie’s husband Richard. The lies range from fairly small to life wrecking. And they keep coming.

Honestly, it’s the children I feel sorry for – Rosie’s small sons, Lucy, none of them asked for such terrible adults as parents and role models.But it’s the way those lies take on lives of their own and get manipulated that leads to the tragedy in the final third of this story and almost cost Anna everything.

Those big lies, including the omitting of past secrets, can cause someone who’s already possessive and jealous to lash out and in really terrible ways.

*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: Lycanthropy & Other Chronic Illnesses – Kristen O’Neal*

Teen Wolf meets Emergency Contact in this sharply observed, hilarious, and heartwarming debut young adult novel about friendship and the hairy side of chronic illness.

Priya worked hard to pursue her premed dreams at Stanford, but a diagnosis of chronic Lyme disease during her sophomore year sends her back to her loving but overbearing family in New Jersey—and leaves her wondering if she’ll ever be able to return to the way things were.

Thankfully she has her online pen pal, Brigid, and the rest of the members of “oof ouch my bones,” a virtual support group that meets on Discord to crack jokes and vent about their own chronic illnesses.

When Brigid suddenly goes offline, Priya does something out of character: she steals the family car and drives to Pennsylvania to check on Brigid. Priya isn’t sure what to expect, but it isn’t the horrifying creature that’s shut in the basement.

With Brigid nowhere to be found, Priya begins to puzzle together an impossible but obvious truth: the creature might be a werewolf—and the werewolf might be Brigid. As Brigid’s unique condition worsens, their friendship will be deepened and challenged in unexpected ways, forcing them to reckon with their own ideas of what it means to be normal.

My thoughts: as someone with several chronic illnesses (so much fun guessing what’s trying to kill me today) I totally related to Priya and her friends, life is no fun when everything hurts.

The book is laugh out loud hilarious as Priya and Brigid, with the assistance of their Discord server pals and hot animal control guy Spencer, attempt to cure Brigid’s lycanthropy, and help her stop wolfing out. I loved the scientific approach they tried to take and then abandoned for slightly mad “cures” from old folkloric books in the antique shop Brigid works in.

I also loved their friendship, the way that they bonded over old TV shows and stupid internet jokes and being let down constantly by your own body – cos hard same.

I can’t believe this is a first novel, it’s so strong and well written and enjoyable, can’t wait to see what the author does next.

And now I have to go take my meds. Fun.

*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: Banana Devil Cake – Susan A. King*

With the murder of last year’s fête judge now but a hazy memory, the village of Elmesbury has
retired to its former tranquil existence.

That is, until a mysterious newcomer sets in motion a series of events that will see members of the W.I. crossing wooden spoons at dawn.
In the midst of preparing for her long-awaited engagement party, redoubtable village busybodyBeattie Bramshaw not only finds herself embroiled in a one-woman campaign to save the elm tree from which the village gets its name, but having to contend with an outbreak of unrest within her beloved W.I. group. Rivalry to win favour with the judge of this year’s fête has fuelled dissent within
the ranks and, when two members are found dead in mysterious circumstances, suspicions run rife.

Confident the devil is not only in the cake but in the detail, Beattie determines to uncover the clues
that will ultimately lead to the killer’s conviction. But can she solve the mystery before another member of the W.I. is picked off?
Banana Devil Cake is a comedy crime caper in the spirit of Agatha Raisin and one that is guaranteed to lift your spirits.

Prepare yourself for a tale of tea, cake and riotous goings-on from the author
of Marrow Jam.

Amazon UK
Amazon US


Susan A. King lives with her husband in a quiet suburb in Hampshire. Between them they have four
grown-up sons.
The inspiration for her Beattie Bramshaw novels comes from her long experience and observation of
competitors at the local Romsey Show, where she regularly aspires to win Best in Show with her floral arrangements.
Twitter Insta

My thoughts:

This was a fun, and slightly silly, cake based cosy crime romp. Who knew the perfect sponge could cause so much trouble?

As members of the WI had murdered in the run up to the annual village fete, Beattie puts her thinking cap on and tries to solve it. But her first suspect, the slightly oily Leo, an incomer, seems a bit obvious. Or is he?

This was an enjoyable and entertaining read, complete with absent minded vicar, a historic tree in peril, a court case and some award winning vegetables.

*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: Geiger – Gustaf Skordeman*

The incredible story of a codeword, an extraordinary murder, and the woman who must solve both to stop a deadly plot fifty years in the making. Perfect for fans of I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.
__________________

The landline rings as Agneta is waving off her grandchildren. Just one word comes out of the receiver: ‘Geiger’.

For decades, Agneta has always known that this moment would come, but she is shaken. She knows what it means.

Retrieving her weapon from its hiding place, she attaches the silencer and creeps up behind her husband before pressing the barrel to his temple.

Then she squeezes the trigger and disappears – leaving behind her wallet and keys.

The extraordinary murder is not Sara Nowak’s case. But she was once close to those affected and, defying regulations, she joins the investigation. What Sara doesn’t know is that the mysterious codeword is just the first piece in the puzzle of an intricate and devastating plot fifty years in the making . . .

My thoughts:

This started really well, but then I felt it slowed down a bit, much like Sara’s investigation, before speeding up again as the past and its dark secrets started to come to light.

Stasi agents from East Germany, spies from Russia, Sweden’s own past politicians and important figures, all combine in a heady mix of Cold War secrets, conspiracies and contingencies. There’s some very clever and shocking twists in the tale as Sara digs deeper into the past and gets herself further into trouble with her bosses.

She’s an interesting character, at odds with herself in many ways, not entirely enamoured with her job, reacting with violence and anger to things, struggling in her home life – her children are growing up and she doesn’t feel close to them or her husband.

She uses this case as a distraction but also to answer some questions about her own past, her parentage and her mother’s silence.

An interesting thriller, exploring some of Europe’s darker parts and hidden history.


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