blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Ruabon – Carl Drinkwater*

Read my thoughts on the other books in this series: Lost Solace Chasing Solace Grubane Clarissa

Welcome to Tecant.


Nothing ever happens here.


Until today.


Ruabon Nadarl is just another low-ranking member of the scan crew, slaving away for the UFS which
“liberated” his homeworld. To help pass the time during long shifts he builds secret personalities into the robots he controls. Despite his ingenuity, the UFS offers few opportunities for a better life.
Then Ruabon detects an intruder on the surface of a vital communications tower.
He could just report it and let the deadly UFS commandos take over, while Ruabon returns to obscurity.
Or he could break UFS laws and try to capture the intruder himself. For the UFS, only the outcome matters, not the method. If his custom-programmed drones can save the day, he’ll be a hero.
And if he fails, he’ll be dead.
Buy


Karl Drinkwater writes thrilling SF, suspenseful horror, and contemporary literary fiction. Whichever you pick you’ll find interesting and authentic characters, clever and compelling plots, and believable worlds.
Karl has lived in many places but now calls Scotland his home. He’s an ex-librarian with degrees in
English, Classics, and Information Science. He also studied astrophysics for a year at university, surprising himself by winning a prize for “Outstanding Performance”.
When he isn’t writing he loves guitars, exercise, computer and board games, nature, and vegan cake.
Not necessarily in that order.

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My thoughts: this was interesting in that it both filled in a gap in one of the Lost Solace books, Chasing Solace, but also showed you the flip side to those events. What Ruabon does that day with the drones he’s been tinkering with isn’t huge in the grand scheme of things, but to him, in that moment, it is everything. He’s so bored of his job, of the UFS, that even breaking all the rules doesn’t bother him.

If you’ve read the previous books and short stories, you’ll know what’s happening, what Opal and Athene are up to, and why UFS are so keen to catch them. This can be read as a standalone but it makes a lot more sense tied into the whole.

*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: My Best Friend’s Secret – Emily Freud*

How do you escape a past you can’t remember?

Kate Sullivan has a beautiful home, a job she loves and a handsome fiancé: all she’d ever dreamed of since getting sober and painstakingly piecing her life back together.

But a chance encounter with her old best friend Becky threatens Kate’s newfound and fragile happiness. Kate remembers nothing of their last drunken night out, the night Becky broke off their friendship without warning or explanation.

With Becky back in her life, Kate is desperate to make amends for the past. For the closure she craves, Kate needs to know what she did that ruined everything. But what if the truth is worse than Kate could have imagined?

(Previously published as Closure)

My thoughts: I really thought this book was going in one direction, then it swerved and went in a completely different one. Which was refreshing but also horrifying – the secret Becky has been carrying all those years will destroy everything Kate believes in.

It was also interesting to see Kate’s daily battle with addiction and how close to the surface her need swam, especially at times of stress. She’s fundamentally a good person but made some mistakes and continues to struggle with them every day.

*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 Murder Box – Olivia Kiernan*

At first, Detective Chief Superintendent Frankie Sheehan believes the murder mystery game sent to her office is a birthday gift from one of her colleagues. But when Frankie studies the game’s contents, she notices a striking resemblance between the ‘murder victim’ and missing twenty-two-year-old Lydia Callin.

As Frankie and her team investigate, a series of grisly crimes connected to the game are discovered across Dublin city and Lydia’s involvement with a shadowy network of murder mystery players becomes clear.

On the hunt for Lydia’s murderer, Frankie is drawn more deeply into the game. Every successful move brings her closer to the killer. But the real question is not what happens should she lose — but what happens if she wins.

My thoughts: this was good, clever and twisted. Drawing on the famous Nutshell crime scene models, escape rooms, online games, and people’s true crime addiction, this investigation is handed on a plate (or should that be, in a box?) to the detectives but there seems to be something very sinister at play. Not helped by the refusal of the other “players” to stay out of it once it becomes clear this is a real crime.

Frankie and her team are racing against time as more clues appear and the amateur sleuths put themselves at risk, getting far too involved. But who is the killer and what is their endgame?

*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: Hope Nicely’s Lessons for Life – Caroline Day*

In learning to write about her life, will Hope Nicely finally learn how to live it?

‘I don’t have any friends, only dog ones, because they don’t make you do bad things. I don’t want any human friends, actually. It’s for the best.’

Hope Nicely hasn’t had an easy life.

But she’s happy enough living at 23 Station Close with her mum, Jenny Nicely, and she loves her job, walking other people’s dogs. She’s a bit different, but as Jenny always tells her, she’s a rainbow person, a special drop of light.
It’s just . . . there’s something she needs to know.

Why did her birth mother abandon her in a cardboard box on a church step twenty-five years ago? And did she know that drinking while pregnant could lead to Hope being born with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder? In a bid to find her birth mother and the answers to these questions, Hope decides to write her autobiography.

Despite having been bullied throughout school, Hope bravely joins an evening class where Hope will not only learn the lessons of writing (including the number one golden rule of ‘show don’t tell’), but may also begin to discover more about the world around her, about herself and even make some (human) friends.But when Jenny suddenly falls ill, Hope realises there are many more lessons to come . . .
Hope Nicely’s Lessons for Life is a heart-warming, coming-of-age novel about loneliness, friendship, acceptance and, above all, hope.


Caroline Day is a freelance journalist and consultant editor, living in Crouch End, married with kids and two dogs. She is an alumnus of the Curtis Brown Creative novel-writing course.

My thoughts:

I loved this book, I loved Hope. It’s sweet and sad and so hopeful. Hope has had a lot to deal with – her FASD is a lot to deal with and has led to some terrible bullying. But with the love and support of her wonderful mum Jenny, she has found ways to live her life happily. She has the best job – getting to play with lots of lovely dogs and is attending a writing class, so she can write her story.

Hope is resilient and inspiring. And this book had me laughing and crying. Honestly it’s so wonderful. More Hope Nicely please!

*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 Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness – Laura Bambrey*

Tori Williamson is alone. After a tragic event left her isolated from her loved ones, she’s been struggling to find her way back to, well – herself. That’s why she set up her blog, The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness, as a way of – anonymously – connecting with the outside world and reaching others who just need a little help sometimes.
 
When she’s offered a free spot on a wellbeing retreat in exchange for a review on her blog, Tori is anxious about opening herself up to new surroundings. But after her three closest friends – who she talks to online but has never actually met – convince her it’ll do her some good, she reluctantly agrees and heads off for three weeks in the wild (well, a farm in Wales).
 
From the moment she arrives, Tori is sceptical and quickly finds herself drawn to fellow sceptic Than, the retreat’s dark and mysterious latecomer. But as the beauty of The Farm slowly comes to light she realizes that opening herself up might not be the worst thing. And sharing a yurt with fellow retreater Bay definitely isn’t.  Will the retreat be able to fix Tori? Or will she finally learn that being lonely doesn’t mean she’s broken . . .
 
Welcome to The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness! Where you can learn to move mountains by picking up the smallest of stones…

My thoughts: this was lovely, Tori is lonely and deeply sad, still grieving her mother’s death and the break up of her relationship. On a trip to review The Farm she starts to open up and recover. We all deal with tragedy in different ways and Tori is no different. The ways in which the gentle therapeutic methods of the The Farm help her heal are mostly kindness and friendship – things we all need.

I loved Doreen and Raven, honestly the other guests were a delight. Tori is a sweetheart and I wanted to reach through the pages and give her a hug. And there’s a delightfully slobbery dog too! The book is a tonic, so enjoy.

*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: Safekeeping – Eva Mackenzie

No one ever thinks they’ll get caught…

Moments before police arrive on the scene of a car accident in rural Montana, Sonia has time to make one phone call. With one word whispered, she sets off an unstoppable chain of events. Once police arrive, she confesses to the brutal murder of her stepsister, Emma.

After, she’s sentenced to life in prison where she learns her stepfather’s ruthless reach. It’s a game of cat and mouse– a game she has already lost. She only needs to hold on long enough to be sure her secret is kept safe.

Until one day, news of an unidentified man’s death confirms her worst fear, and Sonia must get out of prison, at all cost. What did the dead man say, and who heard him say it?

Because everyone is guilty of something…

Add to Goodreads Available on Amazon

Eva Mackenzie is an author who enjoys twisty, emotionally engrossing tales. Her debut novel has been a work in progress for over a decade. Under the urging of a loved one, it’s finally finished.

She is a wife and mother living on the east coast. When she isn’t writing, she is spending time with her family, training for her next marathon or reading stacks of suspense novels. Some of her favorite authors are Minka Kent, Dean Koontz, Tami Hoag, and Lisa Jackson.

Eva Mackenzie | Facebook | Instagram GoodreadsNewsletter

Who wants to win a brand new Kindle??? This giveaway is open to everyone (Hosts too) and will run all week (ending July 24th)!

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My thoughts: this book did not go the way I expected from either the blurb or the opening scenes. Alternating between characters, this clever thriller sends you all over trying to work out who the good guys are and how Sonia, stuck in prison, can ever help anyone, least of all herself. Why did she confess to Emma’s murder and who is she so desperate to protect?

The ending felt a little harried – but I suppose that did give a sense of the desperation and terror the characters were feeling in that moment and there were a few loose ends I wanted resolved. But hopefully the author will revisit the law firm (for instance) and round off the stories there at some point. Overall though, this was an enjoyable domestic noir thriller with a suitably awful villain and very brave protagonists.

*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: Fish Heads and Duck Skin – Lindsey Salatka*

On the advice of a five-dollar psychic, Tina Martin, a zany, overworked mother of two, quits her high-powered job and moves her family to Shanghai. Tina yearns for this new setting to bring her the zen-like inner peace she’s always heard about on infomercials. Instead, she becomes a totally exasperated fish out of water, doing wacky things like stealing the shoes of a shifty delivery man, spraying local women with a bidet hose, and contemplating the murder of her new pet cricket.

It takes the friendship of an elderly tai chi instructor, a hot Mandarin tutor, and several mah-jongg-tile-slinging expats to bring Tina closer to a culture she doesn’t understand, the dream job she never knew existed, and the self she has always sought. Fish Heads and Duck Skin will resonate with anyone who has ever wondered who they are, why they were put here, and how they ever lived before eating pan-fried pork buns.

My thoughts: I struggled a bit with this book because of the slight “make fun of the weird customs” tone at the beginning of it, which annoyed me as to the Shanghainese, those aren’t weird customs – it’s their country. But once Tina realises she’s the one with the weird customs it gets a lot better. She doesn’t adapt as quickly as her kids do, but then kids always pick up languages fast, eat whatever interests them and generally just get on with it in a way most adults can’t.

Yes there are some things that happen in China that are awful, their human rights record reflects that easily, but this book manages to find the bright spots and levity too. The fakes so good you almost can’t tell the difference, the kind tai chi instructor who just keeps trying with Tina, the friends she makes, even if none of them are actually Chinese. It’s very much a fish out of water story, although not the tasty kind little Pippa enjoys eating.

*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 Secret of Dartwood Manor – N.A Triptow*

Purchase a copy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Blackwell’s 

Add on Goodreads!

Witches. Ghosts. An ancient secret. Enter a world of myth and magic through this contemporary fantasy reimagining of Jane Austen’s beloved classic, Sense and Sensibility.

The small New England town of Tarryville, Maine is steeped in history, having been settled by the Dartwood and Farris families who fled Salem during the witch trials. The Dartwood sisters, Eden, Mariah, and Melissa, unexpectedly return home after their parents are found murdered. Upon their arrival, the girls are plagued by dreams in which dark spectral beings haunt them. When the hellish creatures seem to be more than just nightmares, another mystery begins to unravel as they discover that the circumstances around the murder of their parents may be far more menacing than they appear. Frantic for answers, they must untangle the mystery of their parents’ murders and reconstruct the pieces of an ancient secret. With the help of the young assistant curator of their family museum, Baden Correia, and an estranged friend from their past, Evan Farris, the orphaned Dartwood sisters must uncover the truth before the darkness haunting their family descends upon them as well.

The ebook of The Secret of Dartwood Manor is currently ON SALE for $0.99! Don’t miss out on this epic deal, only for the duration of the blog tour! Grab a copy HERE. UK readers – Here.


And here’s a link to Wishing Well Publishing’s shop where you can find witchling and bookish swag The official shop of Wishing Well Publishing – Wishing Well Merch (wishing-well-merch.myshopify.com)

INTL Blog Tour Giveaway!

Enter the rafflecopter to win a kindle copy of The Secret of Dartwood Manor + a $10USD Amazon Gift Card!

This is open internationally & it ends on July 21st, 2021 at 11:59pm EST.

Author of young adult contemporary fantasy and retellings, from fairy tales to classics, N. A. Triptow graduated from The University of Utah with a Bachelor of Arts in English Teaching with minors in History Teaching, Theatre, and British Studies. She teaches high school English and Film Studies. She is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Strategic Communication and Advertising from Purdue University. In her free time, you can find her reading, watching and analyzing movies and television shows, attending the theatre, going on walks or hikes, and playing board or video games with family and friends. She lives in Utah.

Website | Instagram | Goodreads | Twitter

Listen to an audio excerpt of The Secret of Dartwood Manor!

Here’s a link to a playlist of audio excerpts from the book read by the author, N.A. Triptow.

Listen to The Secret of Dartwood Manor’s playlist!

Playlists – N. A. Triptow (natriptow.com)

Q&A with Author N.A. Triptow

  1. If you could interview one of your characters (or have some tea with), who would you pick?

This is difficult for me to answer! I just love all the characters for very different reasons. If I have to choose one though, I would have to say Baden Correia, the Brazilian assistant curator of the Dartwood’s family museum and Mariah’s best friend. He is just so loyal, caring, and brave. My mom was also born in Brazil so it would be so much fun to chat about all things Brazilian, especially the yummy food with him. 

  1. What songs were part of your playlist when writing The Secret of Dartwood Manor?

Music is a huge part of the writing process for me. As soon as I start developing a new book, I always put together a playlist to use while writing it. I actually have the full playlist that I used to write The Secret of Dartwood Manor on my website. It also includes the fabulous theme written specifically for the novel by the brilliant Beckee Davis! Here’s a link to the playlist: https://natriptow.com/playlists/

  1. Tell us your favorite quote and/or scene from your book!

I think one of my favorite scenes is probably between Baden and Mariah when they sneak into the crime scene after the murder. It’s actually one of the audio excerpts read by me that was released on my publisher’s YouTube channel on release day. Here’s a link to the scene if you’d like to listen to it.

  1. How did you come up with the title for your book?

I had a working title that I was using during the writing process, but the final title became clear after the book was finished. I kept jotting down various ideas that didn’t seem quite right and suddenly The Secret of Dartwood Manor came to me, and I knew that was it.

  1. If you were to write a spin-off about a side character, which would you pick?

I think it would be fun to see a prequel about the villains’ pasts. It’s always fun to try to understand what motivates a person and what makes them who they are. Knowing that can certainly humanize a villain even if it doesn’t actually make them technically good. It shows that they’re a person whose choices led them down a particular path. Plus, the villains in this story really have some crazy back stories. Whether I’ll eventually write that or not remains to be seen, but it certainly is a compelling idea.

  1. What is your kryptonite as a writer?

My kryptonite is time. There are just not enough hours in the day.

My thoughts: I wasn’t sure about this book at first, I famously don’t get on with Jane Austen and am not a fan so the ‘inspired by’ had me a little worried at first. But this was actually a lot of fun. The three Dartwood sisters, Eden, Mariah and Melissa return home when their parents are brutally murdered but a lot of things don’t add up so they start to investigate.

Blending magic with the mundane, their quest leads them to discover some things about their family and themselves. I think headstrong Mariah was my favourite of the three, and I definitely felt for her best friend Baden, who’s hopelessly in love with her and she’s oblivious.

It was really interesting and I liked the premise of the villains (no spoilers here) and the way it set up the next book in the series – although it never ends well when decisions are being made for people who aren’t in the room where it happens!

🧙🏻🧙🏿‍♀️🧙🏾Top Five Witchy Movies (as picked by me!) As Mariah and Baden love watching films – here’s a few they could get some info from. 🧙🏼🧙🏻‍♀️🧙🏾

🧙🏻‍♀️Practical Magic – I yield to no one in my love of this gem, starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman as sisters, who are also witches. I’ve loved this film since I was about 13. The Owens women are cursed, any man that loves them will die. It’s sad and romantic and creepy and amazing. I love their aunts, and the Midnight Margarita party. But also their bond, which saves them. Bonus – it’s based on a book of the same title and the sequel/prequel was published last year.

🧙🏼Hocus Pocus – more sister witches, more curses, more mayhem in this Disney classic. Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy are the Sandersons, brought back to life by Max entirely by accident in Salem. This is a Halloween must watch.

🧙🏾The Witches – based on Roald Dahl’s creepy book, the original 1990 film still gives me the willies. Creepy and sinister, Angelica Houston (still one of the most gorgeous women ever) becomes utterly terrifying. I don’t want to be turned into a mouse!

🧙🏿‍♀️The Craft – sometimes your witchy sisters are your found family, like in this teen classic (look, I grew up in the 90s, these are pretty much all 90s films and stone cold classics as far as I’m concerned!) has four teenage girls harnessing their powers to get some revenge. We are the weirdos mister!

🧙🏻Kiki’s Delivery Service – I had to include this cute as a button Studio Ghibli delight. Witch Kiki sets off on her adventures with talking cat Jiji (I love him so much) and opens a delivery business, on her broom. This is an adorable and lovely film that I’m always recommending.

Tell me your fave witchy films or books in the comments please!!

*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: Clarissa – Karl Drinkwater*

Read my thoughts on the other books in this series: Lost Solace Chasing Solace Grubane

If you’re reading this: HELP! I’ve been kidnapped.
Me and my big sister stayed together after our parents died. We weren’t bothering anybody. But some mean government agents came anyway, and split us up.
Now I’m a prisoner on this space ship. The agents won’t even say where we’re going.
I hate them.
And things have started to get a bit weird. Nullspace is supposed to be empty, but when I look out of
the skywindows I can see … something. Out there. And I think it wants to get in here. With us.
My name is Clarissa. I am ten years old.
And they will all be sorry when my big sister comes to rescue me.
Buy a copy


Karl Drinkwater writes thrilling SF, suspenseful horror, and contemporary literary fiction. Whichever you pick you’ll find interesting and authentic characters, clever and compelling plots, and believable worlds.
Karl has lived in many places but now calls Scotland his home. He’s an ex-librarian with degrees in
English, Classics, and Information Science. He also studied astrophysics for a year at university, surprising himself by winning a prize for “Outstanding Performance”.
When he isn’t writing he loves guitars, exercise, computer and board games, nature, and vegan cake.
Not necessarily in that order.

Website
Twitter
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My thoughts: this is another short story set in the world of the Lost Solace books, which start with Opal looking for her missing sister – Clarissa. In this brief glimpse of the past, narrated by 10 year old Clarissa herself, we see what happened, what sets Opal on her quest. Clarissa has been taken by two agents, she thinks in order to force her to go to school, but they seem to have a different agenda. On the ship, Solace, they encounter something strange, something they’re afraid of. But Clarissa isn’t. It’s a really interesting bit of back story filled in, and suggests the beginning of Clarissa’s own story is even more interesting than Opal’s. Hope there’s more to come!

*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 Matchmaker – Hélene Fermont*

Perfect Lives Don’t Come Cheap.

Marcia Bailey has it all: a passionate marriage to a rich and handsome man who is utterly devoted to her; fame and success as London’s premier matchmaker; a beautiful home in a posh neighbourhood, and fabulous holidays in exotic places.

But her perfect life turns into a nightmare overnight when a mysterious caller suddenly threatens to reveal secrets from her past she thought she had left behind forever. Who is he and what does he really want? He says he wants three million pounds to keep quiet, and she’s willing to pay. After all, she has already sacrificed so much, and perfect lives don’t come cheap.

But Marcia has a hunch her caller wants more than money from her. He wants to hurt and humiliate her. But why?

As police investigate a brutal murder in a wealthy London neighborhood, they untangle a web of lies, violence, sex and jealousy surrounding Marcia Bailey and the group of wealthy and powerful men who have secrets of their own to keep.

The Matchmaker is filled with unexpected twists and turns — and characters that will haunt you long after you’ve read the last page.

Add to Goodreads

The Matchmaker is Available for Purchase Here!

Hélene Fermont’s a practising psychologist with vast experience of people from all walks of life and background. Her Character Driven Psychological Thrillers are completely fictitious with much emphasis on their journey and interaction, intriguing traits and storylines.

After many years in London, Hélene divides her time between London and her home town, Malmö. Her beloved, beautiful cat, Teddy, is her writing buddy.

Hélene’s the proud author of five Psychological Thrillers; Because Of You, We Never Said Goodbye, His Guilty Secret, One Fatal Night, and The Matchmaker. Hélene’s the author of a collection of crime and romantic stories, Who’s Sorry Now? Currently, she’s working on her second collection, Maisie’s Secret which will be released later this year.

Hélene’s novels and stories are known for their explosive, pacy narrative and storylines.

Helene Fermont | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

My thoughts: this was a twisted tale of love and revenge. Marcia may appear to have it all, but her past is a sad and lonely one. It’s only after her brutal murder that the secrets start to come out as ex-lovers, her sister, her daughter and more are interviewed by the police as they try to find out who killed her.

The book bounces between the different characters as they react to the killing and await a visit from the police, and you see that behind the huge houses and bank balances, many people’s lives are not simple at all. Marcus is having money problems, Julian’s still in love with the one woman he can’t have, Rachel has just found out who her birth mother was. The secrets and lies keep coming.

Slowly the detectives unravel everyone’s connections and after a savage assault, get the answers they were looking for. A slow burner of a crime thriller but interesting and involving.

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