blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Hypnos – Jon Biddle*

What if the unthinkable became a reality? What if technology could be used against you?

A software program has been stolen from the digital vaults of the CIA. It is capable of bridging the gap between A.I. and human consciousness, making a person do whatever the controller wants, creating a potentially terrifying new world. The organisation responsible has racist, right-wing views and a perverted desire to reduce population growth by culling it using the software. Only the rich and the powerful can be part of Asclepius. The software is uploaded to the brain via eye movement using a smartphone, leaving open the possibility for entire countries to be controlled remotely.

Alex Brown, newly-appointed to the B5 Intelligence cell of British intelligence while hunting for the serial killer Dale Broc who has kidnapped her daughter, has been assigned to the case and now has to choose. Will she save the country or her daughter?

Hypnos is the second novel in the Alex Brown series. Author Jon Biddle brings extensive medical knowledge coupled with military and law enforcement experience that combines to produce an exciting sequel to The Harvester.

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Jon spends his days smashing out people’s hip and knee joints, and his nights writing medical thrillers.

A veteran and a medical professional who spends 45 hours a week in the OR, Jon brings considerable medical and military/law enforcement expertise to the crime thriller genre, evident by the attention to detail in his six books.

Jon’s writing is dark and eclectic, provoking and deviant. He surrounds himself in the white glow of pureness, with one foot always in the dark. The dark always surrounds us, but Jon has a knack of making his readers ask “Could this happen to me?”

There is nothing too dark for Jon to write about. He has no level, base, or filter, and will get into your head and “scare the living daylights” out of you.

Jon lives in the south-west of England with his childhood sweetheart, Sam, and two Springer Spaniels. With full-time medical responsibilities in his day job, Jon spends 15-20 hours a week writing for his growing online audience. His new medical thriller, The Harvester, was released in 2019 as the first of six books in the Dale Broc series.

Find out more about Jon Biddle, including his new releases and regular short stories, by going to http://www.jonbiddle.uk and joining the mailing list.

My thoughts:

This is a weird, and at times, confusing, thriller. There’s a lot going on, plots that don’t really go anywhere, details that don’t add anything to the story and I got a bit annoyed with some of it.

Now, that may be because I haven’t read the previous book and the continuing storylines from that meant nothing to me. It may also be that two of the male characters had the same first name and I got a bit confused by that.

However, it was a clever, deep state conspiracy, intelligence service thriller with lots of guns and explosions, as well as complicated high tech doomsday software.


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

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: You Never Told Me – Sarah Jasmon*

A year ago, Charlie’s life seemed to be following a plan: she had a beautiful house, a lovable dog and an upcoming wedding. But she felt trapped. A few months before the big day, ignoring the warnings from her family, she abandoned her life and fled to the other side of the world in a bid for freedom.

But when her mother unexpectedly falls ill, Charlie has to cut her trip short. She flies home, but by the time she gets to the hospital, it’s too late.

Her mother is gone, but she’s left a mystery behind. Why did she buy a canal boat, and where did the money for it come from? As Charlie attempts to work through her grief and pick up the pieces of her life, she follows the threads of her mother’s secret past – but has she missed her chance to learn the truth?

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Sarah Jasmon lives on a canal boat near Manchester with her children. She has had several short stories published, is curating a poetry anthology, and has recently graduated from the Creative Writing MA course at Manchester Metropolitan University.

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My thoughts:

This is a gentle meditation on grief and secrets. Charlie’s inheritance sofa narrow boat her mother kept a secret, and the web of secrets it holds about her mother’s life slowly begin to unravel as Charlie looks into the past and learns about her mother’s history.

Evocative and moving, this is an enjoyable and comforting read, perfect for curling up on the sofa.

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

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Girl with the Amber Comb – Linda Finley*

Orphaned at birth, Eliza lives with her beloved Grandparents in a waterlogged Somerset cottage surrounded by willow beds where she ekes out a living making laundry baskets and eel traps. Although poor she is content, until childhood friend Clem, regales her with tales of his adventures along the river and she begins to wonder what life is like beyond the Droves.

When fate brings handsome, wealthy Theo to her workshop she is instantly attracted and a rosy future beyond the Droves beckons. Only things don’t go to plan and naive Eliza finds herself in Lavender House where she is expected to care for gentlemen in a way she never imagined. Forced to flee for her life, she ends up in a woollen mill run by a corrupt foreman, working for crumbs and pennies with only her grandmother’s comb in her pocket.

Now she knows what matters in life – but is it too late? And will she ever be able to return home to those who love her?

My thoughts:

This was a different sort of read for me, I don’t generally go for books with covers like these, but I’m glad I took a punt on this.

My grandmother was born in Devon, and so I feel a connection to the West Country of this novel, a place where people work hard and live in beautiful, but sometimes remote landscapes.

Eliza’s life is not easy, and as the book opens she has just lost her grandmother and must take on the role of running the household as well as weaving the willow baskets her family earn their living from.

In a way I quite understood her reasons for running away; a revelation rips her world apart, she finds herself alone and she feels uncertain about her future.

But her experiences in the larger towns she visits all remind of her of how much she misses her small home and the safety of the Droves.

As a love story, it’s more one of Eliza’s love for her home than of any man. Which was somewhat refreshing, no man rescues Eliza from any of her predicaments, she rescues herself.

The title is a bit long and unwieldy and certainly obscures any hint at the plot – Eliza saves herself in this one!

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

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Book Review: Atlas Alone – Emma Newman


Six months after she left, Dee is struggling to manage her rage toward the people who ordered the nuclear strike that destroyed Earth. She’s trying to find those responsible, but she’s not getting very far alone.

A dedicated gamer, Dee is endeavoring to discover a mersive good enough to enable her to escape her trauma. When she is approached by a designer who asks her to play test his new game, she hopes it will be what she needs—but it isn’t like any mersive she’s played before. When a man suddenly dies in the real world, she realizes that at the same time in the game, she killed a character who bears a striking resemblance to the dead man—a man she discovers was one of those responsible for the death of millions on Earth.

Disturbed, but thinking it must be a coincidence, Dee continues the hunt for information. But when she finds out the plans for the future colony, she realizes that to save what is left of humanity, she might have to do something that risks what remains of her own.

My thoughts:

I love this series of interconnected books set in the same universe following the mysterious Pathfinder across the galaxy to a new world after Earth is destroyed.

After Atlas explores virtual reality, guilt and revenge.

Dee is an unreliable narrator, but the only one we have, and so as she investigates those onboard the colony ship, we learn as much as she is willing to share.

This makes the plot more intriguing and Dee a fascinating character, the twist at the end I did not see coming, making it all the more delicious.

Newman is a very skilled writer, and very nice too (I met her at last year’s Gollanczfest), and this demonstrates her world building skills, setting much of the novel inside Dee’s mind as she plays an immersive VR game, which takes skill.

Highly enjoyable and smart, I just need to read the rest of the series soon.

I was kindly gifted a copy of this book by the publisher with no obligation to review.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Unreliable Death of Lady Grange – Sue Lawrence*


Edinburgh, January 1732: It’s Lady Grange’s funeral. Her death is a shock: still young, she’d shown no signs of ill health.

But Rachel is, in fact, alive. She’s been brutally kidnapped by the man who has falsified her death – her husband of 25 years, a pillar of society with whom she has raised a family.

Her punishment, perhaps, for railing against his infidelity – or for uncovering evidence of his treasonable plottings against the government.

Whether to conceal his Jacobite leanings, or simply to `replace’ a wife with a long-time mistress, Lord Grange banishes Rachel to the remote Hebridean Monach Isles, until she’s removed again to distant St Kilda, far into the Atlantic – to an isolated life of primitive conditions, with no shared language – somewhere she can never be found.

This is the incredible and gripping story of a woman who has until now been remembered mostly by her husband’s unflattering account. Sue Lawrence reconstructs a remarkable tale of how the real Lady Grange may have coped with such a dramatic fate, with courage and grace.

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As well as writing popular historical thrillers, including Down to the Sea, Sue Lawrence is a leading cookery writer. After winning BBC’s MasterChef in 1991, she became a regular contributor to the Sunday Times, Scotland on Sunday and other leading magazines. Raised in Dundee, she now lives in Edinburgh. She has won two Guild of Food Writers Awards.

My thoughts:

This was a really fascinating read. Having read books like The Scandalous Lady W and Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, I knew 18th Century women were treated appalling in their unhappy marriages as they had no rights and not even custody of their own children.

But to have your wife kidnapped, not once, not twice, but three times (the third isn’t covered in the book but is mentioned in the author’s afterword) is a new extreme.

Rachel, Lady Grange, may not have always been easy to live with; her fierce temper and fondness for claret saw to that, but she didn’t deserve the punishment her husband and his Jacobite pal Lord Lovet dreamed up for her.

Fleshing out the limited details available about Lady Grange’s life, Sue Lawrence has created a fascinating, enjoyable and eminently readable piece of historical fiction.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Prized Girl – Amy K. Green*

Days after a young pageant queen named Jenny is found murdered, her small town grieves the loss alongside her picture-perfect parents. At first glance, Jenny’s tragic death appears clear-cut for investigators. The most obvious suspect is one of her fans, an older man who may have gotten too close for comfort. But Jenny’s half-sister, Virginia—the sarcastic black sheep of the family—isn’t so sure of his guilt and takes matters into her own hands to find the killer.
But for Jenny’s case and Virginia’s investigation, there’s more to the story. Virginia, still living in town and haunted by her own troubled teenage years, suspects that a similar darkness lay beneath the sparkling veneer of Jenny’s life. Alternating between Jenny’s final days and Virginia’s determined search for the truth, the sisters’ dual narratives follow a harrowing trail of suspects, with surprising turns that race toward a shocking finale.
Infused with dark humor and driven by two captivating young women, The Prized Girl tells a heartbreaking story of missed connections, a complicated family, and a town’s disturbing secrets.My thoughts:This covers some dark terrain, and I don’t just mean murder. Both Jenny and Virginia live with secrets, and while Virginia is trying to find Jenny’s killer, she’s also unravelling her own past.The plot twists and turns, keeping you guessing right till the very end.For a small town there’s a lot of terrible people doing terrible things, reminding me of some recent Netflix binges, and that’s no bad thing.*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Happy Family – James Ellis*


Germaine Kiecke was a foundling, an orphan. Now she is a successful art academic who defines herself by her profession and prefers to experience the world through art and an augmented reality game called Happy Family. But when the artist Tom Hannah, the creative force behind the game, moves to Spain, surrounds himself with high walls, three large dogs, and a runaway who teaches him to think like a tree, his existential melt-down threatens all Germaine holds dear.

James has written two novels, The Wrong Story and An Other’s Look, and a novella, Fizz. He has had published a number of prize-winning short stories and a travelogue of his journey through Central America. He has a Master of Studies in Creative Writing and is a member of the Society of Authors, English PEN and the International Flann O’Brien Society. He is an occasional presenter on Frome FM’s On-Air Book Group, a contributor to Carers UK’s creative writing campaigns and was an ambassador for a Shooting Star – a charity for babies, children and young people with life-limiting conditions.

My thoughts:

This was a strange, darkly comic novel. Everyone in it is slightly unhinged, most of the plot takes place in a depressing Spanish village, where the characters essentially act appallingly apart from Germaine, who observes all of this chaos with a sort of detachment, despite being the nexus in some ways for all of the people being there.

Despite this, I actually really enjoyed this book, crazy subplots and all. The characters are well drawn, I could really see them all running around in the hills, driving clapped out cars and being chased by an assortment of dogs.