blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: If She Dies – Erik Therme*

How far would you go to right a wrong?

Nine months ago, Tess’s five-year-old daughter was killed in a car accident. The driver, Brady Becker, was sentenced to two years in prison. It didn’t make Tess’s pain go away.

Brady also has a daughter: A twelve-year-old named Eve who walks to Chandler Middle School every day. Tess knows this because she’s been watching Eve for the last three weeks. It isn’t fair that Brady’s daughter gets to live, while Tess’s daughter does not.

When Eve goes missing, all eyes turn to Tess, who doesn’t have an alibi. But Tess isn’t guilty.

Or so she believes.

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Erik Therme has thrashed in garage bands, inadvertently harbored runaways, and met Darth Vader. When he’s not at his computer, he can be found cheering on his youngest daughter’s volleyball team, or watching horror movies with his oldest.

When he’s not at his computer, he can be found cheering on his youngest daughter’s volleyball team, or watching horror movies with his oldest.

He currently resides in Iowa City, Iowa—one of only twenty-eight places in the world that UNESCO has certified as a City of Literature.

Join Erik’s mailing list to be notified of new releases and author giveaways.

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My thoughts:

This was a well written, gripping thriller. Like anything involving children, there’s an extra sense of tension to the plot.

Tess isn’t dealing with her grief well and has fixated on Eve, an innocent child, after losing her own daughter. This puts her firmly in the spotlight when Eve goes missing.

Grief is a powerful and sometimes dangerous emotion, and can lead to some dark places. But is Tess guilty?

I liked the characters and enjoyed the book, it kept me guessing and was strong and cleverly done.

*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: Two Wrongs – Mel McGrath*


One girl jumped. And then another followed…

In the city of Bristol, young women are dying in mysterious circumstances. The deaths look like suicides – but are they something more sinister?

Honor is terrified that her daughter might be next. But as she looks for clues as to what really happened to the girls, she stumbles upon a link to a dark secret in her own past – one that she’s kept from her daughter.

Now Honor has the chance to avenge her child for the terrible events of years ago. But how far will she go to protect her daughter and right the wrongs done to her family?

My thoughts:

This was really good and very clever. I couldn’t tell where it was going to end up. Mel McGrath writes enjoyable thrillers which keep you guessing so I knew this would be good, and it was. What starts out with a dramatic life or death moment on Bristol’s famous bridge takes a turn into some dark places, a world of corrupt academics and vulnerable young women, murder and revenge.

Honor and Nevis are engaging and realistic protagonists, I felt for them as they navigated their relationship while dealing with the distressing events happening around them.

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

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Ex – Diane Saxon*

Read my review of What She Saw

Sometimes your past just won’t let go…

As a heat wave grips the country, DS Jenna Morgan is called to a domestic incident at the home of a young family in Ironbridge. Pregnant Imelda Cheetham-Epstein has been found unconscious by her husband, Zak with serious head injuries.

When Jenna arrives on the scene, she discovers something even more disturbing – the couple’s eleven-month-old son, Joshua, is missing and the race against time begins to find him.

Is this an accident or something more sinister?

Are the two incidents linked?

Or has something in the Cheetham-Epstein’s past caught up with them?

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Diane Saxon is back with a gripping new psychological crime novel, perfect for fans of Cara Hunter
and Carol Wyer.

Diane Saxon previously wrote romantic fiction for the US market but has now turned to writing psychological crime. Find Her Alive was her first novel in this genre and introduced series character DS Jenna Morgan.

She is married to a retired policeman and lives in Shropshire.

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My thoughts:

This was really good, a solid thriller that led to some interesting places. With his wife in a coma and his son kissing, Zak Cheetham-Epstein is top of the suspect list, but something else is going on and it’s upto DS Jenna Morgan to find out what’s what and rescue little Joshua before anything else can happen.

There are several heart in the mouth moments and some twists that threw me completely – when they’re explained you’ll want to revisit some scenes with new eyes. Very enjoyable and gripping stuff.

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

reviews, books, blog tour

Blog Tour: The Night Has Seen Your Mind – Simon Kearns*

Tech billionaire, Mattias Goff, has invited five creative professionals – programmer, pianist, writer,
actor, and photographer – for a monthlong residency at Crystal Falls, his Arctic retreat.

Researching brain waves, and especially the enigmatic gamma wave, Goff asks his guests to wear a
kind of EEG cap in order to record the electrical activity in their brains while they engage with their
respective disciplines. Although they will be paid $5million each for the experience, they all start their sojourn a little wary – some more than others.

Cut off from the outside world in the stunningly beautiful, if stark, Alaskan winter landscape they immerse themselves in their work. Soon, though, reality seems to be shifting.

What is Goff really researching? Are his guests only being observed, or manipulated?

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Simon Kearns was born in London in 1972 and grew up in Northern Ireland. In his teens he returned to London to study philosophy. At the end of 2004 he moved to the south of France where he lives with his partner and two children.

His debut, Virtual Assassin, (Revenge Ink, 2010), explores personal responsibility in a corrupt society. It was followed by Dark Waves, (Blood Bound Books, 2014), about a powerful haunting and the scientist determined to debunk it.

His stories have appeared in publications such as The Future Fire, Litro, The Honest Ulsterman, and on numerous websites. He revels in etymology, guitar, gaming, and the science of superstition.

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My thoughts:

This book was very strange and sinister and a tiny bit bewildering, but all in a good way. Five creatives are invited to the Alaskan hideaway of a reclusive tech millionaire to help with his new project – he wants to record their gamma waves while they create. Or does he?

Weird things start happening and there’s an intense sense of claustrophobia despite being in the middle of nowhere. It gets stranger and more terrifying the longer the five are in the house. Will they survive?

I was gripped, desperate to figure out just what was going on, this book did not go anywhere I could possibly expect it to, but was way more out there.

It was however, super enjoyable and written in a relatable, easy to follow style, not getting too technical for me (I’m not great with techy stuff). I was completely drawn in and it reminded me a little of those classic locked house mysteries like Agatha Christie specialised in. But more modern and terrifying.

*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: Million Story City – Marcus Preece*

An author whose experience embodies the struggle faced by millions of other working class regional writers

When the filmmaker, teacher and editor Marcus Preece died in 2017 he left behind incomplete notes and drafts for dozens of short stories, screenplays, comic strips, poems and music journalism. He was also in the process of writing an inter-connective short story collection Adventures in Million-Story City from which this collected works, edited by his friend, author Malu Halasa, takes it name.

Million-Story City is a fabulous place populated by highly original, delightful characters, where storybook conventions mix and flow in a sequence of tales for both adult and younger readers: Two guys named Tom Bone. A spaceman speaking only lyrics from pop songs, confusing the aliens. A Gogolesque telesales agent with a dog problem. A return to a desolate Australian mining town. Cowboys, detectives and witches, unlike any you’ve ever seen. An irate email to Sepp Blatter. Wise children. Musings on whiskey, the sea and the end of the damn world. It all made Preece one of the most interesting writers you never got the chance to hear of.

Marcus Preece was a solidly working class writer based largely in the Midlands, and the themes of his screenplays, short fiction and poetry – racism, migration, sexism and corrupt government – resonate loudly today. He was a punk at college in Walsall when he became friends with the Birmingham-based director John Humphreys. Their first film together was United Bad Art (1989) about graffiti and other scripts of his were made into films for Yorkshire TV and BBC2. If someone in a bedsit on one of those tumbled down two-up-two-down terraced houses had some success in the wider world than anyone in Birmingham could do it.

But Preece’s personal story is one still experienced by writers around the country, and especially in the regions. In Birmingham it was too hard to make the necessary contacts and when he couldn’t earn a living from his scripts and articles Preece worked as a builder with his dad in East Grinstead. In the 2009 he retrained as a teacher of English as a second language and moved to Hanoi, where he taught English, edited the Voice of Vietnam’s English-language website and held legendary pub quizzes in dive bars when he wasn’t obsessing over his latest short story for the page or film.

Preece’s life was tragically cut short but what remains are his wonderfully acerbic and witty comics and screenplays, his melancholic poems and this anthology is a sheer delight and tribute to that.

As the UK faces an uneasy future, Marcus’s undiscovered writings, his outrage and politics speak volumes now.

Paper + Ink founder Mitch Albert said, ‘Marcus Preece’s writings reveal a man who had considerable talent and vision, and once I tucked into the stories, comics, screenplays and poems, it was a while before I looked up again. In short, I’m a fan, in addition to admiring Malu’s meaningful and highly worthwhile tribute to a fallen friend.’

Malu Halasa is an editor, writer and curator based in London. She has written the novel, Mother of All Pigs, and edited many anthologies including Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline and The Secret Life of Syrian Lingerie: Intimacy and Design. Usually she writes about the Middle East but for Million-Story City she returns to Britain’s second city, which inspired her after she moved to the UK in the 1980s.

My thoughts:

Even in the shortest of this collection of writing you can feel how good a writer Marcus Preece was and what a loss his death is.

He creates a strong sense of place and time, drawing pictures that linger in the mind. Even in the opening piece about his birthplace of Ima in the Australian Outback, a tiny no horse town, you can see the things he’s describing so clearly, without ever having been there.

Living in the UK’s second city, Birmingham, for much of his adult life, gave him a unique perspective on its inhabitants and society. As an outsider he could see the idiosyncrasies while also feeling a deep bond and affection for his adopted home town.

This is a book that shows you snapshots of people and places, gifting them to you on the page. In the short stories, poems and screen plays, he creates whole worlds in a few words, strongly drawing you into his characters’ lives. Truly an underrated writer.

*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 Aether Ones – Wendi Coffman-Porter*


Long ago, the Great Sundering ripped the universe apart, creating two separate realities. The kuldain realm developed advanced technology, and its inhabitants travel the universe on massive ships to colonize and expand their empire. The aether realm, meanwhile, harnessed the magic of the massively powerful eldrich energy that connects everything within their realm.

Now, a tentative peace reigns between the two realms, maintained by a treaty and by the Imperial Investigative Service–a force designed to monitor interactions between the realms and ensure that most kuldain inhabitants don’t even know aether space exists.

Leilani Falconi, a talented agent of the IIS, polices the galaxy with quick sarcasm and a quicker temper. When a series of suspicious deaths in kuldain space threatens the secrecy and peace, Lei must solve the mystery–fast–before both her realities change forever.

My thoughts:

This was a gripping, clever sci-fi thriller that whizzed all over the universe as Lei raced against time to unravel a conspiracy with far reaching consequences for both kuldain and aether realm and their peoples.

She’s smart, quick and happy to commit violence to get what she needs if her bag of tricks and bribes don’t quite cover it. As an agent she has licence to do whatever it takes in service to the emperor, and a talent for disguise and assuming new identities as needed.

I liked Lei and her take no prisoners attitude, I appreciated her dry sense of humour and determination. The plot whizzed along taking in all sorts of weird and wonderful events and characters. Really enjoyable.


*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: Travel by Night – Sophie Morton-Thomas*

A nebulous memory. Caught in a dangerous trap. A life-changing discovery.

When Yalina wakes in hospital following surgery, she doesn’t recognise her own parents.
Following her release, she decides to meet her estranged brother, Ali, in Sheffield. On her arrival, Yalina is taken to a house where girls are held against their will and forced into sex slavery. Too late, she realises she has fallen into a trap.
Over time, Yalina discovers a love of playing the old piano that lives in the house. It keeps her sane. As friendships blossom between the women, Yalina finds herself taking a young girl, Rebecca, under her wing.
When the women are threatened with violence, Yalina reluctantly accepts help from a stranger she met in the house. But he carries a secret that could impact on her whole life.
Will Yalina escape her captors? And how will she cope with the unexpected revelation?
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Sophie Morton-Thomas is a British writer based in West Sussex where she lives with her husband and children. She’s an English teacher by day and a Creative Writing Master’s degree student and writer in her spare time.

Travel By Night is her first novel, and is based in Sheffield, where she lived for a number of years.

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My thoughts:

I got a bit frustrated with Yalina a few times, she has several chances to escape and get help but every time she gives up and returns to the house of horrors she’s been kept in.

This was an intelligent thriller about trafficking and modern slavery, the women are kept half starved and terrified, their passports taken from them.

The twist at the end, in terms of the stranger who finally helps them, is very clever and unexpected.

*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 Dragonfly Girl – Marti Leimbach*

In this spellbinding thriller and YA debut from bestselling author Marti Leimbach, Kira Adams has discovered a cure for deathand it may just cost her life.

Things aren’t going well for Kira. At home, she cares for her mother and fends off debt collectors. At school, she’s awkward and shy. Plus, she may flunk out if she doesn’t stop obsessing about science, her passion and the one thing she’s good at . . . very good at.

When she wins a prestigious science contest she draws the attention of the celebrated professor Dr. Gregory Munn (as well as his handsome assistant), leading to a part-time job in a top-secret laboratory.

The job is mostly cleaning floors and equipment, but one night, while running her own experiment, she revives a lab rat that has died in her care.

One minute it is dead, the next it is not.

Suddenly she’s the remarkable wunderkind, the girl who can bring back the dead. Everything is going her way. But it turns out that science can be a dangerous business, and Kira is swept up into a world of international rivalry with dark forces that threaten her life.

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Marti Leimbach’s latest novel is DRAGONFLY GIRL, a YA action/thriller about a high school girl with a gift for science who discovers a “cure” for death and ends up embroiled in an international rivalry. It is published by Harper Collins in February 2021.

Marti Leimbach is known for her bestsellers, Dying Young, made into a film starring Julia Roberts, and Daniel Isn’t Talking. She is interested in neurodiversity and has shared the stage with young inventors at the Human Genome Project (Toronto), the National Autistic Society, and the University of Oxford.
She teaches on the Masters Programme in Creative Writing at the University of Oxford. Dragonfly Girl is her eighth novel, but her first for young adults.

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My thoughts:

This was very good, blending science fiction and fact, action and intrigue, Dragonfly Girl takes us from small town America to Stockholm’s fanciest hotels and then to Russia in all its decaying finery.

Kari is a science genius, her brilliant mind can process information quickly and she can think out a method for all sorts of experiments in no time.

Her intelligence gets her awarded science prizes that stave off debt collectors but then catch the attention of men who might not be entirely as they seem.

I loved April the rat carer and Dmitry the grumpy Russian defector in the lab, I felt for Kari as she took on her family’s worries and tried to juggle high school as well.

This was really enjoyable and I hope there’s a book two in the works.

*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: Killing the Girl – Elizabeth Hill*

For over forty years Carol Cage has been living as a recluse in her mansion, Oaktree House. Fear is her constant companion. She’s been keeping a secret – and it’s about to be unearthed.

When she receives a compulsory purchase order for her home, she knows that everyone is going to find out what she did to survive her darkest weeks in 1970. She writes her confession so that we can understand what happened because she wasn’t the only one living a lie. The events that turned her fairy-tale life into a living hell were not all they seemed.
She’s determined not to pay for the mistakes of others; if she has to suffer, then they will too.
Carol Cage has a terrible secret … and she’s about to exact retribution on everyone who’d let her suffer.
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Elizabeth published ‘Killing The Girl’ in April 2019, which has won the ‘Chill With A Book’ Premier Readers Award and Book Of The Month for October 2020. She is now busy working on her second novel, Killing The Shadowman.

We all love a great murder mystery and ‘Killing The Girl explores the reasons why an ordinary woman kills. What pushes her to her limit of endurance and sanity? And could that woman be you?
Elizabeth is a member of The Alliance of Independent Authors, The Bristol Fiction Writers Group and Noir At The Bar, Bath. She was a speaker at the 2019 Bristol Festival of Literature.
Find out more on her website
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Elizabeth lives in Bristol, UK.

My thoughts:

This was a really interesting, compelling book that keeps you guessing. Carol is an unreliable narrator as she doesn’t know everything and can’t always be trusted to remember or tell the truth.

There are so many layers of secrets and lies to unravel as the ghosts from 1970 are revealed. Very cleverly done.

*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

Book Review: The Church, Who Needs It? We Do! – Yvonne Bennett and The Women of Mummies Republic

A group of mums in South London living in poverty come together to form a group to help each other.

They talk of their struggles on Universal credit and the ways in which a pioneer Methodist missionary has brought them together. Not all have a faith, but all believe in the power of prayer. Their struggles escalate as the pandemic lockdown comes into play.

They start a blog and use this to express their feelings. This book is their voice.

My thoughts:

This was a really interesting study looking at the role of the Church (encompassing all denominations) in modern life. The women who attend the Wednesday meetings of Mummies Republic are not all regular church goers but that doesn’t matter. The assistance, support and fellowship they receive there transcends those restrictions.

They find comfort and solace in prayer and their community – as well as practical help and advice as they navigate the ludicrous benefits system and then 2020’s first lockdown. Unable to meet in person they connect via WhatsApp and a blog they take turns contributing to.

While religious faith may be on a decline in the UK, the role the Church can play in providing essential services the government and wider society fail to, is often unrecognised and unsung. From credit unions to food banks, mental health support and even holidays, the Church is there to try to uplift and support its parishioners.

The pioneering work of this South London Church is vital to the lives of the Mummies Republic women, empowering them and supporting them during dark and difficult times. Many of them are single parents, some are survivors of domestic abuse, all of them are struggling.

This slim volume assesses the work being done and also gives voice to this community of women, in their own words, revealing their hopes and fears.

Powerful and moving, it should remind us that we can do more to support the people that are often overlooked and neglected. And that the church is often there (as are temples, mosques, synagogues and gurdwaras) to offer solace and practical support without fanfare.

I was kindly sent a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.