blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Skelton’s Guide to Suitcase Murders –

Read my review of Skelton’s Guide to Domestic Poisons

November 1929. A woman’s dismembered corpse is discovered in a suitcase and police quickly identify her husband, Doctor Ibrahim Aziz, as their chief suspect. Incriminating evidence is discovered at his home and his wife was rumoured to be having an affair, giving him clear motive.

With his reputation for winning hopeless cases, barrister Arthur Skelton is asked to represent the accused. Though Aziz’s guilt does not seem to be in doubt, a question of diplomacy and misplaced larvae soon lead Skelton to suspect there may be more to the victim’s death.

Aided by his loyal clerk Edgar, Skelton soon finds himself seeking justice for both victim and defendant. But can he uncover the truth before an innocent man is put on trial and condemned to the gallows?

My thoughts:

I love these books, they are smart, intelligent reads and this one might be even better than the first.

There’s more delightful letters from Skelton’s eccentric cousins, John and Norah, who I adored in the first book, there’s more Mina, Skelton’s excellent wife and lots more Edgar, his brilliant clerk. His team are a bit odd but they always solve the case, and Rose, who has now joined Duncan’s solicitors firm, is a fabulous detective, and is about to fall in love.

Skelton criss crosses the country representing the innocent and the not-so, while also attempting to unravel the truth about the body in the suitcase, if it is Mrs Aziz, who killed her? And if it isn’t, who is it?

There are funny bits and serious bits, some very modern concerns about prejudice, showing things like racism have always been with us, and Skelton knows it could cause Dr Aziz, a man he is sure is innocent, to lose his life anyway if put in front of a jury. How sad that a book set in 1929 shows such relevance to 2021.

But Skelton, ably assisted by his crack team of oddballs, will prevail, and help his dad find a retirement activity or two to fill his time, cheer Mina on with her new hobby, support Edgar through his own turmoil, solve a series of thefts and be back in time for the dinner Mrs Bartram has put on.

Simply put, I thought this was another marvellous adventure for Skelton and Co and cannot wait for the next one.


*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: Heir to the Darkmage – Lisa Cassidy*

Ambition drives her. Danger thrills her. But magic always has a price.
Twenty years have passed since the Darkmage was destroyed and the war between mages ended.

For Lira Astor, the single living heir to the Darkmage, escaping her name is impossible.

People still fear what is long dead, and they see in her the rise of another dangerous mage with deadly ambition. Desperate to claw her way free of her grandfather’s shadow, to make her own name amongst the world of mages, Lira is willing to do whatever it takes. Even if that means
joining the secretive rebel group looking to restore his vision.

Survival is a lesson Lira learned early and often, yet when she is abducted and held prisoner in a deadly game of cat and mouse, she finds herself facing a nemesis she may be no match for.

Forced to band together with unlikely allies who challenge everything she believes about what it means to be a mage, she will have to rely on every bit of ruthlessness she possesses.
Because the war may only just be beginning…

…and Lira Astor intends to come out on top.

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Lisa is a self-published fantasy author by day and book nerd in every other spare moment she has.

She’s a self-confessed coffee snob (don’t try coming near her with any of that instant coffee rubbish)
but is willing to accept all other hot drink aficionados, even tea drinkers.

She lives in the Australia’s capital city, Canberra, and like all Australians, is pretty much in constant danger from highly poisonous spiders, crocodiles, sharks, and drop bears, to name a few. As you can see, she is also pro-Oxford comma.

A 2019 SPFBO finalist, Lisa has published the YA fantasy series The Mage Chronicles, and is currently
working on her latest epic fantasy series A Tale of Stars and Shadow. She has also partnered up with One Girl, an Australian charity working to build a world where all girls have access to quality education. A world where all girls — no matter where they are born or how much money they have — enjoy the same rights and opportunities as boys. A percentage of all Lisa’s royalties go to One Girl.

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My thoughts:

A lot happens in this quite short novel, we meet Lira, the granddaughter of the notorious Darkmage, a man she’s never even met, but whose reputation causes her fellow students to cower away from her.

Her story, the death of her mother, a childhood spent first in an orphanage, then on the streets, joining a criminal gang just to stay alive, before becoming a student and learning how to control her magic.

When she and several other students are kidnapped, supposedly her supporters of her grandfather, she must escape and save her newfound friends, without looking too suspicious – she is a spy after all.

Fast paced, intelligent and darkly comic, this is a smart and engaging YA fantasy novel, with more to follow as Lira works to bring down the enemies of the state, without revealing her beliefs or becoming too much like her grandfather.

*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 Witness – Terry Lynn Thomas*

HE SAW WHAT YOU DID…

Teenager Ebby Engstrom witnesses a murder – and then passes out. The next morning, he wakes in his bed with no memory of how he got there, and is told his mother was stabbed to death the previous night.

Thirty years later, the case has gone cold, with numerous suspects but no new clues – until Ebby starts having uncontrollable flashbacks to that night. As repressed memories surface, he questions his own role in the murder, leading to a dramatic confession and Ebby’s arrest.

Family friend and attorney Olivia Sinclair is convinced of Ebby’s innocence, but the only way to clear his name is to find the real killer herself. And it seems almost everyone connected to the Engstrom family had a reason to want Cynthia dead…

My thoughts:

I hadn’t read the first Olivia Sinclair book but this stands up perfectly well without needing to.

Ebby Engstrom is starting to remember flashes of the night his mother was brutally murdered, and he’s worried he might have been the killer. Can Olivia prove him wrong?

The unravelling of the events that happened 30 years ago is cleverly done, pretty much everyone’s a suspect and as the secrets come out it gets more tangled and the finger could be pointed at a growing number of family members.

While dealing with this case, Olivia also gets involved with her friend and colleague Brian’s suspicious new girlfriend – is she who she says she is?

Both cases are convoluted but hold the reader’s interest nicely, and don’t distract from each other. The supporting cast of characters is interesting too – Ebby’s brother is awful, but his aunts and friends seem lovely.

I really enjoyed the way suspense is built with both cases and how Olivia cuts quickly through all the legal shenanigans and gets to the truth. The shocking revelations about the Engstroms is handled very nicely. An excellent and enjoyable legal thriller. I aim to go back to book one in the series to fill out the back story a bit more before book three is released.

*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 Dig Street Festival – Chris Walsh*

It’s 2006 in the fictional East London borough of Leytonstow. The UK’s pub smoking ban is about to happen, and thirty-eight-and-a-half year old John Torrington, a mopper and trolley collector at his local DIY store, is secretly in love with the stylish, beautiful, and middle-class barmaid Lois. John and his hapless, strange, and down-on-their-luck friends, Gabby Longfeather and Glyn Hopkins, live in Clements Markham House – a semi-derelict Edwardian villa divided into unsanitary bedsits, and (mis)managed by the shrewd, Dickensian business man, Mr Kapoor.

When Mr Kapoor, in a bizarre and criminal fluke, makes him fabulously credit-worthy, John surprises his friends and colleagues alike by announcing he will organise an amazing ‘urban love revolution’, aka the Dig Street Festival. But when he discovers dark secrets at the DIY store, and Mr Kapoor’s ruthless gentrification scheme for Clements Markham House, John’s plans take several unexpected and worrisome turns…Funny, original, philosophical, and unexpectedly moving, The Dig Street Festival takes a long, hard, satirical look at modern British life, and asks of us all, how can we be better people?

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Chris Walsh grew up in Middlesbrough and now lives in Kent. He writes both fiction and non-fiction, an example of which you can read here in May 2020’s Moxy Magazine.

Chris’s debut novel The Dig Street Festival will be published by Louise Walters Books in April 2021.

Chris’s favourite novel is Stoner by John Williams and his favourite novella is The Death of Ivan Illyich by Leo Tolstoy. His top poet is Philip Larkin. He is also a fan of Spike Milligan.

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My thoughts:

This is a surreal, and at times, very funny book. John is one of life’s hapless few, nothing he does seems to matter and he struggles with feelings of anger and hopelessness.

Deciding to throw caution to the wind and create his own world, all paid for by the mysteriously accumulating pile of credit cards that keep coming through his door, John and his equally strange friends, Glyn and Gabby, cause anarchy in the East London fictional borough of Leytonstow.

I kept laughing out loud, there are some brilliantly funny moments and a huge sense of bathos as chaos runs riot and John’s life unravels all around him.

It’s not an easy book to categorise – part fantasy, almost dystopian in the way the lies and casual darkness appear as John looks closer at his small part of the world.

*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: Summer Secrets at Streamside Cottage – Samantha Tonge*

A new start can come from the most unexpected places…

It’s been years since Lizzie Lockhart spoke to her parents. But she was safe in the knowledge she knew everything about them. Once upon a time, they were as close as could be. Until they weren’t.

After receiving the earth-shattering news of their passing, Lizzie decides it’s time to unearth some family secrets and find out just who her parents really were… starting
with Streamside Cottage.

A cottage Lizzie never knew existed, in a place she’s never
heard of: the beautiful English village of Leafton.

Leaving behind London, and the tattoo parlour she called home, Lizzie finds herself moving to the countryside. Faced with a tight-lipped community, who have secrets of
their own, Lizzie is at a loss for what to do, until her rather handsome neighbour, Ben, steps in to help.
As Lizzie finally begins to piece together the puzzle of her family history she realises she has to confront the truth of the past in order to face her future.

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Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK with her husband and children. She studied German and French at university and has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris. She has travelled widely. When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee. Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories
to women’s magazines. She is represented by the Darley Anderson literary agency.

In 2013, she landed a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins and in 2014, her bestselling debut, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for
the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award. In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category. In 2018 Forgive Me Not heralded a new direction into
darker women’s fiction with publisher Canelo. In 2019 she was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association romantic comedy award

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My thoughts:

Reeling from the deaths of her estranged parents, Lizzie rents the cottage left to her aunt and goes looking for the mystery of why her parents never wanted to return to Leafton.

As she looks into the past, her future is still undecided, will she return to London, the tattoo studio where she works and the flat she shares with her boss, or will she find out things that make her want to stay in Leafton?

This was a clever and enjoyable story about family, the past and building a new life for yourself. Lizzie is an interesting and engaging protagonist, her memories of her early childhood are hazy but the things she needs to know are buried in there somewhere.

*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: Kate in Waiting – Becky Albertelli*

From bestselling YA rom-com queen Becky Albertalli (author of Love, Simon) comes a new novel about daring to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight in love, life and theatre.
[PRINCIPAL CAST LIST]
Kate Garfield
Anderson Walker
Best friends, and contrary to popular belief, not co-dependent.

Examples:Carpooling to and from theatre rehearsals? Environmentally sound and efficient.
Consulting each other on every single life decision? Basic good judgment.
Pining for the same guys from afar? Shared crushes are more fun anyway.
But when Kate and Andy’s latest long-distance crush shows up at their school, everything goes off-script.
Enter Stage Left: Matt OlssonHe is talented and sweet, and Kate likes him. She really likes him. The only problem? So does Anderson.
Turns out, communal crushes aren’t so fun when real feelings are involved. This one might even bring the curtains down on Kate and Anderson’s friendship…

Becky Albertalli is the author of the acclaimed novels Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (film: Love, Simon), The Upside of Unrequited, and Leah on the Offbeat. She is also the co-author of What If It’s Us with Adam Silvera. A former clinical psychologist who specialized in working with children and teens, Becky lives with her family in Atlanta. You can visit her online at

She is also the co-author of What If It’s Us with Adam Silvera. A former clinical psychologist who specialized in working with children and teens, Becky lives with her family in Atlanta. You can visit her online at www.beckyalbertalli.com.

My thoughts:

I knew I would enjoy this for two reasons – one, it’s about theatre kids and two, it’s by Becky Albertalli.

A really fun and totally enjoyable read about crushes, friendship, first love and putting on a show. Kate and Andy’s bond is strong and genuine and those are the ones you hold onto. It’s also very funny.


*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 Therapist – B.A. Paris*

When Alice and Leo move into a newly renovated house in The Circle, a gated community of exclusive houses, it is everything they’ve dreamed of. But appearances can be deceptive…

As Alice is getting to know her neighbours, she discovers a devastating, grisly secret about her new home, and begins to feel a strong connection with Nina, the therapist who lived there before.

Alice becomes obsessed with trying to piece together what happened two years before. But no one wants to talk about it. Her neighbours are keeping secrets and things are not as perfect as they seem…

My thoughts:

The therapist of the title isn’t any of the characters you meet, but rather the absent Nina. The plot revolves around Alice’s obsession with knowing what she can about the former occupant of her home.

This was an intelligent, enjoyable domestic thriller, with the glamorous suburban neighbourhood seething with secrets underneath the veneer of respectability and social interaction.

*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 Choice – Kerry Barnes*

Read my review of The Rules

The wrong choice may just get you killed…

Mike Regan and Zara Ezra believe the so-called Governor is safely locked away – in Zara’s hangar.

But less than twenty-four hours later, the Governor is loose and out there, wreaking havoc.

After what Zara made him do to his own son, she knows he’ll be back with more than murder on his mind.

Moving the families to a safe place was all the firm could do to protect them. But now one of the boys goes missing. It can only mean one thing – the Governor has started his revenge.

Zara is faced with an unimaginable choice just as she forced the Governor to make his – only this time, it could cost the man she loves his life.

My thoughts:

This is another violent and revenge fuelled gangland thriller. Following directly on from the end of The Rules, Zara, Mike and their gang are still in pursuit of whoever is flooding the streets with an incredibly dangerous drug and working to bring down the Governor.

But there’s another player who enters and puts the son of one of the gang in serious danger, setting off a chain of events that raises the body count.

As they hunt out the head of the snake all of them are in danger.

These books don’t mess around, death is around every corner and conspiracies abound. Every time Zara and Mike think they’ve found some peace another thug appears to wreck it. Zara especially is incredibly ruthless and will do whatever it takes to get the result she wants.


*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: Zara Hossain is Here – Sabina Khan*

Zara’s family has waited years for their visa process to be finalized so that they can officially become US citizens. But it only takes one moment for that dream to come crashing down around them.

Seventeen-year-old Pakistani immigrant, Zara Hossain, has been leading a fairly typical life in Corpus Christi, Texas, since her family moved there for her father to work as a pediatrician. While dealing with the Islamophobia that she faces at school, Zara has to lay low, trying not to stir up any trouble and jeopardize their family’s dependent visa status while they await their green card approval, which has been in process for almost nine years.

But one day her tormentor, star football player Tyler Benson, takes things too far, leaving a threatening note in her locker, and gets suspended. As an act of revenge against her for speaking out, Tyler and his friends vandalize Zara’s house with racist graffiti, leading to a violent crime that puts Zara’s entire future at risk. Now she must pay the ultimate price and choose between fighting to stay in the only place she’s ever called home or losing the life she loves and everyone in it.

From the author of the “heart-wrenching yet hopeful” (Samira Ahmed) novel, The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali, comes a timely, intimate look at what it means to be an immigrant in America today, and the endurance of hope and faith in the face of hate.

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Sabina Khan is the author of ZARA HOSSAIN IS HERE (Scholastic/ April 6, 2021) and THE LOVE & LIES OF RUKHSANA ALI (Scholastic, 2019). She is an educational consultant and a karaoke enthusiast. After living in Germany, Bangladesh, Macao, Illinois and Texas, she has finally settled down in beautiful British Columbia, Canada, with her husband, two daughters and the best puppy in the world.

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My thoughts:

This was really good, a powerful novel about our differences and our similarities, about race, religion and sexuality. A book about family in all its different guises and friendship.

The fun stuff; bits are really funny, like Zorro the dog and his pizza hedge or Zara’s dad getting carried away on the karaoke machine. There’s so much food I was practically drooling all the way through – South Asian food is delicious and I was extremely hungry (I made curry after I finished it, also you should definitely try bhel puri, it’s amazing). The romance between Zara and Chloe was sweet and tender.

The not so fun stuff; racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, bigotry. What happens to Zara’s dad is really awful, what she and her family endure from the small minority of idiots that think the colour of someone’s skin or the way they practice their faith is an acceptable thing to attack. It’s very sad and it made me very angry. Some of my best friends are Indian and Pakistani, some of them are Muslim too and I hate how they have to deal with ignorance and bigotry.

There is hope in the book, though, Zara has so much hope and that is so so important when dealing with things like this. She’s determined to stand up and fight back against the racists and the bigots. I stand with all the Zaras out there dealing with this nonsense (trying really hard not to swear) as an ally.

An important, timely book and one I hope lots of people choose to read.

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*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: Facets of Death – Michael Stanley*

A dark and sophisticated thriller set in the heart of Botswana, introducing Michael Stanley’s beloved Detective Kubu

Recruited straight from university to Botswana’s CID, David ‘Kubu’ Bengu has raised his colleagues’ suspicions with his meteoric rise within the department, and he has a lot to prove.

When the richest diamond mine in the world is robbed of 100,000 carats worth of gems, and the thieves are found, executed, Kubu leaps at the chance to prove himself. First he must find the diamonds – and it seems that a witch doctor and his son have a part to play.

Does this young detective have the skill and integrity to engineer an international trap? Or could it cost him everything?

Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Both were born in South Africa and have worked in academia and business.

Stanley was an educational psychologist, specialising in the application of computers to teaching and learning, and is a pilot.

Michael specialised in image processing and remote sensing and taught at the University of the Witwatersrand.

On a flying trip to Botswana, they watched a pack of hyenas hunt, kill, and devour a wildebeest, eating both flesh and bones. That gave them the premise for their first mystery, A Carrion Death, which introduced Detective David ‘Kubu’ Bengu of the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department. It was a finalist for five awards, including the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger.

The series has been critically acclaimed, and their third book, Death of the Mantis, won the Barry Award for Best Paperback Original mystery and was shortlisted for an Edgar award. Deadly Harvest was shortlisted for an International Thriller Writers award.

They have also written a thriller, Dead of Night, following the investigative journalist, Crystal Nguyen, who gets caught up in the war against rhino poaching and rhino-horn smuggling.

My thoughts:

This was a highly enjoyable book, with a complex, clever heist at the heart of it, as well as a case of suitcase theft to tackle.

Detective Kubu is an engaging and intelligent protagonist, his quick mind able to draw links between things that others haven’t even spotted yet.

Many people may be familiar with the Botswana of the Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, but this is more realistic and less cosy than that series. These are real crimes being carried out by dangerous men happy to play on people’s fears and superstitions.

It’s also interesting to see the country through the characters’ eyes, the slow modernisation, of new technology that we in the West take for granted – mobile phones, even something as basic as people having landlines in their homes. Yet they have forensics and pathologists, just like elsewhere and don’t see the slow creep of technology as a problem, finding ways to work around the remoteness of some of the locations.

I liked the way the authors used language, blending English with native words, much as the people do, it added authenticity and I could understand them from context pretty much every time.

I haven’t read any of the other Kubu books but I want to, if they’re as smart and engaging as this.


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