Thursday, 18 January 2018

#BlogTour: The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer @kate_hamer @FaberBooks #TheDollFuneral

The Doll Funeral was published in Paperback on 4th January 2017 by Faber & Faber. My thanks to the author and the publisher for the review copy and inviting me on to the blog tour.

My name is Ruby. I live with Barbara and Mick. They're not my real parents, but they tell me what to do, and what to say. I'm supposed to say that the bruises on my arms and the black eye came from falling down the stairs.
But there are things I won't say. I won't tell them I'm going to hunt for my real parents. I don't say a word about Shadow, who sits on the stairs, or the Wasp Lady I saw on the way to bed.
I did tell Mick that I saw the woman in the buttercup dress, hanging upside down from her seat belt deep in the forest at the back of our house. I told him I saw death crawl out of her. He said he'd give me a medal for lying.
I wasn't lying. I'm a hunter for lost souls and I'm going to be with my real family. And I'm not going to let Mick stop me.

My Thoughts:

I was thrilled to be invited to take part in the blog tour for The Doll Funeral having reviewed the authors first book The Girl in the Red Coat for that tour, you can review my review here.

The Doll Funeral is completely different to The Girl in the Red Coat but it is as equally absorbing and wonderfully written. This one is eerie and touched with the supernatural. Set across two strands of time we hear Ruby's story and that of her mother. Set in The Forest of Dean, an area that I know reasonably well, it provided a perfect backdrop for the story.

Ruby discovers on her thirteenth birthday that she is adopted, having endured a difficult childhood Ruby decides to set off in search of her real parents. Ruby was very grown up for thirteen but I suspect that might be to do with the things she has endures.  Ruby's mothers story adds tension and pace to proceedings.

This book is exquisitely written, which is exactly what I have come to expect from this author. I found it to be wonderfully original and intriguing. Descriptive, evocative and extremely haunting. I will admit it did cause me to shed a tear.

Several themes are tackled in The Doll Funeral, such as abuse, mental illness and the parent - child relationship. I really don't want to give much more away about the plot, I would prefer for you discover all about it for yourselves.

I would really recommend this one. Once settled into it will have you completely sucked in.

About the Author:
Kate Hamer grew up in Pembrokeshire. She went to art college and then on to study History of Art at Manchester University. She graduated in 1988. She worked in television for over ten years. 

Having always written purely for herself, she finally decided to begin an MA in creative writing at Aberystwyth University in 2011. Here, she won a prize for the best beginning of a novel – the work that became The Girl in the Red Coat.

She lives with her husband Mark in Cardiff, has two Children and is currently writing full time. The Doll Funeral is her second novel. 

Please do have a look at the other stops on the blog tour.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

#BlogTour: An Act of Silence by @colettemcbeth @wildfirebks #BREAKTHESILENCE

An Act of Silence by Colette McBeth is published on 11th January 2018 by Wildfire Books. My thanks to the author and publisher for the review copy and Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me on the blog tour. 


THEN: How far did she go to conceal the truth?

Politician Linda Moscow sacrificed everything to protect her son: her beliefs, her career, her marriage. All she wanted was to keep him safe.
NOW: What will she risk to expose the lies?
When the voices she silenced come back to haunt her, Linda is faced with another impossible choice. Only this time, it's her life on the line . . .
An Act of Silence is about the abuse of power, the devastating effects of keeping the truth buried, and the lengths a mother will go to save her child.
My Thoughts:
An Act of Silence is the most gripping and taut book that I have read in a long time. It starts off at a relentless pace that doesn't let up throughout. There is suspense and tension on every page, there is not a superfluous word. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed reading this. Colette McBeth is an extremely talented writer and I was hanging on every word until the last page turned.

The story starts when Linda Moscow's son Gabriel returns back to her home in the middle of the night, in a state, frightened and asking for his Mothers help. Can she go as far as he asks and is all as it seems? I really have no desire to give anything away about the plot.

What ensues is an intelligent thriller but it is more than that. It is current, raw and real. An exploration of motherhood, of violence, politics and many secrets. The characters jumped off of the page and whilst the story is sometimes harsh, the characters remained very real and accessible. The time line of the story jumps around a little but this only adds to the evocative backdrop and builds the story to its gripping crescendo.

The writing in An Act of Silence is sublime and this book is so much more than a psychological thriller. It is an expert portrayal of human behaviour and the abuse of power. I adored it, and having read one of this authors books before, this one puts me in the list of fans of her work. I will be reading everything that she has written and will write.

Stunning and simply brilliant. 
About the Author:

Colette McBeth is the author of three critically acclaimed psychological thrillers. Her latest, An Act of Silence, is part domestic, part political thriller. In her former life Colette worked as a political correspondent for the BBC at Westminster, a news reporter and started out on regional newspapers. She lives by the sea with her husband and three children and never has enough time.

Please do have a look at the other stops on the blog tour:

Sunday, 14 January 2018

#BlogTour: Fruit Woman by Kate Rigby #FruitWoman #RandomThingTours

Fruit Woman is available now. My thanks to the author for the review copy and Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to review it. 

Fruit Woman is narrated by Helen Scutt, a quirky and naïve twenty-seven-year-old. The image of the Fruit Woman has appeared to Helen at important times in her life, particularly in relation to her own sexual and spiritual awakening. But only now, while on holiday with her extended family, does she get her first warning message from the Fruit Woman. 

Set in the l980s, Helen returns with her extended family, after a twelve year break, to spend a fortnight at their favourite holiday destination in Devon: Myrtle Cottages. Due to join them for the second week of the holiday are: Helen's old friend, Bella, Bella's brother, Dominic, and Helen's cousin, Les. 

But shortly after the family have arrived on holiday, Helen's mother announces that she has also invited along someone from church for the second week of their holiday: Christine Wigg, a friend of the family, and victim of a rape several years before. 
In the context of the family holiday, where games of cards, scatological worries, and deep discussions abound, the story centres on Helen's anxieties over the second week's 'guest list'. She's not seen Bella for years, she’s attracted to Dominic in spite of his religious beliefs, and she thinks it a bad idea for her mother to have invited Les, who was originally accused of Christine's rape by her in-laws. Helen's concerns trigger off all sorts of childhood and adolescent memories, but as her anxieties mount, can she make sense at last of what happened years before?

My Thoughts:

Fruit Woman is an individual and unique book, it took me a while to settle into the narrative style but once I did I was hooked. 

Fruit Woman is set in the 1980's, over the course of predominantly two weeks. During a family holiday to Devon. These holiday times were very relatable, the card games, being cooped up under each others feet and the toilet woes. The narrator of our story is Helen Scutt, who seemed a very young 27. 

We begin to see Helen's anxieties mount in the anticipation of the second weeks holiday guests mounts. We get to read about Helen's memories of childhood, her best friend Bella and her crush on Bella's brother Dominic. Also coming are Christine who Helen's mother has taken under her wing. Christine is a recovering alcoholic and has a past that involves being raped, which Les was originally accused off. Les is also coming on the holiday...

The tension is palpable as the story progresses and gets darker until the final denouement which was unexpected and certainly took me by surprise. 

Fruit Woman is a read that required a deal of concentration from me but one which I found rewarding and its uniqueness made it a fascinating portrayal of coming of age, families, adolescence and lies and secrets. 

About the Author:
Kate Rigby has published via various different routes and now refers to herself as a hybrid writer. She has been writing for over thirty years and has an extensive back catalogue. 

She loves cats, singing, photography, music and LFC, She also campaigns online against social injustice.

You can find out more on the following sites:

Please do check out the other stops along the blog tour:

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

#BlogTour: Beginnings by Helen J. Christmas @SFDPBeginnings @rararesources

Beginnings is the first in the Same Face Different Place series. My thanks to the author for the review copy and to Rachel of Rachel's Random Resources for having me on the blog tour.

Beginnings is a romantic thriller set in the criminal underworld of 1970s London. Eleanor Chapman is 16. She has no idea her father is employed in a world of organised crime until the day he is forced to go on the run, leaving her at the mercy of dangerous people.
Her life is spiralling out of control yet on the night she plans to escape, she stumbles across a mysterious prisoner. His name is Jake, a rock musician from Holland and he has a contract on his life.
Their daring escape across London eventually draws them into a place of hiding before Jake’s chilling story begins to unfold. He was the one vital witness to a sinister scene leading up to the death of a British MP and now those responsible want him silenced. As two young people, thrown together by fate they develop intense feelings for each other. It does not take long for Eleanor to realise that she will do anything possible to keep Jake alive.
Their tender love bond keeps you turning the pages as they live on a knife edge, desperate to escape London. Will they outrun the deadly enemies who stalk them? Or are the people at the top more powerful than they think?
Purchase on Amazon -

My Thoughts:

Beginnings is a roller coaster of a read that hurtled along at a startling pace and really was the ultimate story of Cat and Mouse. 

At 16 Eleanor Chapman's world turns upside down upon the discovery that her Dad works in the criminal underworld and furthermore is going on the run, leaving her to pretty much fend for herself as the people she has been left with can't be trusted. 

Eleanor meets Jake in difficult circumstances, and the two decide that they have to escape London together. Initially enigmatic I grew to love the character of Jake very much and the blossoming relationship between the pair. 

Set in London in the 1970's, this story had a real sense of time and place. The busy streets of London on parallel with the chaos that our two main protagonists are going through. Some of the scenes made my pulse rise and my hands sweat as I longed for the pair to get out of London safely. 

Well written and well plotted, full of enough mystery and intrigue but throw a little bit of romance in there and this gives this book a dynamic that I haven't necessarily come across before. 

Gripping and fascinating I was drawn into the story hoping that the baddies got their comeuppance. Beginnings was left suitably to go into book two and I will most certainly be reading it. I have to know what happens next!

About the Author:
Helen J. Christmas lives on the south coast of Sussex with her husband. With a love of writing since childhood, she started her decade spanning thriller series 'Same Face Different Place' in 2011. Her first book 'Beginnings,' set in 1970s London, combines romantic suspense with a hard-hitting conspiracy thriller. Writing is something she juggles around family and social life. Helen is self employed and enjoys running the web design company, she and her husband set up from home. They have no children but enjoy the company of a faithful border collie and a fluffy white cat. Helen confesses to have got most of her ideas for writing, whilst walking Barney along the beach.
Social Media Links –
Please have a look at some of the other stops on the blog tour and carry on reading after for your chance to win a copy of this book.
                                 Win a signed copy of Beginnings (UK Only)

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Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Review: My Sweet Friend by H.A. Leuschel @HALeuschel #MySweetFriend

Published 6th December 2017. My thanks to the Author for providing me with a review copy.

A stand-alone novella from the author of Manipulated Lives

A perfect friend … or a perfect impostor?

Alexa is an energetic and charismatic professional and the new member of a Parisian PR company where she quickly befriends her colleagues Rosie and Jack. She brings a much-needed breath of fresh air into the office and ambitiously throws herself into her new job and friendships. 

But is Alexa all she claims to be? 

As her life intertwines with Rosie and Jack’s, they must all decide what separates truth from fiction. Will the stories that unfold unite or divide them? Can first impressions ever be trusted?

In this original novella, H.A. Leuschel evokes the powerful hold of appearances and what a person is prepared to do to keep up the facade. If you like thought-provoking and compelling reads with intriguing characters, My Sweet Friend is for you.

My Thoughts:

My Sweet Friend is a novella and at 92 pages manages to pack a punch and keep the reader in a choke hold from the first page until the last. What the author has managed to pack into such a slim volume is quite remarkable really, although I expected nothing less really having read and reviewed her previous collection of short stories, Manipulated Lives. You can read my review for that here.

My Sweet Friend introduces us to the somewhat claustrophobic, toxic friendship of Alexa and Rosie. Alexa takes up a position within the company Rosie works at. Alexa is everything Rosie isn't. Alexa is polished, charming, outgoing and confident, whilst Rosie is quiet, studious and incredibly kind. The girls form a somewhat peculiar and unlikely friendship. What this novella deals with is the idea of friendship and what it should be and what is is like when it goes drastically wrong. When there is a power struggle and one party is always seeking to gain the upper hand. It puts under a microscope the fact that appearances can be deceptive and some people really aren't who they say they are when the layers are peeled back. 

The author manages to create a tension in her writing that is oppressive and as a reader this means that her writing is not always comfortable, I love it for this as it pushes the boundaries, making it incredibly thought provoking. Alarmingly I would suggest that even if not to this extent if you have worked in an office environment you might have come across characters such as our two protagonists here. 

The author writes with great skill and also manages to hone in on how our minds work and the frailty of the human condition. An entirely compulsive and engaging read.

About the Author:
Helene Andrea Leuschel was born and raised in Belgium to German parents. She gained a Licentiate in Journalism, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. Helene moved to the Algarve in 2009 with her husband and two children, working as a freelance TV producer and teaching yoga. She recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. Manipulated Lives was Helene’s first work of fiction.

You can find her on Twitter: @HALeuschel 

Sunday, 3 December 2017

#BlogTour: The Child by Fiona Barton @figbarton @TransworldBooks #TheChild

Published in Paperback on 14th December 2017. My thanks to the Author and the Publisher for the review copy and Anne Cater for inviting me on the blog tour. 


When a paragraph in an evening newspaper reveals a decades-old tragedy, most readers barely give it a glance. But for three strangers this tiny, pushed aside news story is impossible to ignore. 

For one woman, it’s a reminder of the worst thing that ever happened to her. 

For another, it’s the dangerous possibility that her darkest secret is about to be discovered. 

And for a third, a journalist, it’s the first clue in a hunt to uncover the truth.

My Thoughts: 

The Child is the second novel from author Fiona Barton. I am now kicking myself because I have yet to read her first, The Widow. I will most definitely be adding that one to the reading pile now. 

The Child is a story of secrets and historical events that unravel slowly over the course of the novel, keeping the reader engaged throughout, it is dark and disturbing. So well written but not overdone. The sort of book that is difficult to tell you too much about the plot without being scared of giving something away. So you are just going to get a snippet and then take my word for it about how great this it really is. 

The remains of a baby have been discovered buried on a building site in Woolwich, the reader is told the story from the perspective of three main protagonists. Emma, who seems to suffer from some mental health issues, is struggling. Secondly we have Jude, Emma's mother. The two ladies seemingly have a fractious and difficult relationship and thirdly we have Kate. 

Kate Waters is a journalist, the paper she works for is making redundancies. She seems a little bored with the work she is doing so when the story of the missing baby hits her desk she seizes the opportunity to make a difference, her investigative skills are second to none and at most points she is one step ahead of the police. I loved the compassion and dedication that Kate shows to those concerned and her persistence at getting to the heart of the story. I loved this character. 

Tension builds throughout this story and is palpable on every page, just when you think you have it all sewn up, something else happens to ramp it up again. The permeating sense of unease as the pages turn makes this a gripping read and extremely addictive thriller. 

I can't not recommend this one. 

About the Author:

Fiona Barton’s debut, The Widow, was a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller and has been published in thirty-five countries and optioned for television. Born in Cambridge, Fiona currently lives in south-west France. Previously, she was a senior writer at the Daily Mail, news editor at the Daily Telegraph, and chief reporter at the Mail on Sunday, where she won Reporter of the Year at the British Press Awards. While working as a journalist, Fiona reported on many high-profile criminal cases and she developed a fascination with watching those involved, their body language and verbal tics. Fiona interviewed people at the heart of these crimes, from the guilty to their families, as well as those on the periphery, and found it was those just outside the spotlight who interested her most...

You can find her on Twitter: @figbarton
Please do have a look at some of the stops on the blog tour. 

Saturday, 25 November 2017

#BlogTour: CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour @OrendaBooks @the_cwa

Published on 1st November 2017 by Orenda Books. My thanks the publisher for the review copy and Anne Cater for inviting me on to the blog tour.

Crime spreads across the globe in this new collection of short stories from the Crime Writer’s Association, as a conspiracy of prominent crime authors take you on a world mystery tour. Highlights of the trip include a treacherous cruise to French Polynesia, a horrifying trek in South Africa, a murderous train-ride across Ukraine and a vengeful killing in Mumbai. But back home in the UK, life isn’t so easy either. Dead bodies turn up on the backstreets of Glasgow, crime writers turn words into deeds at literary events, and Lady Luck seems to guide the fate of a Twickenham hood. Showcasing the range, breadth and vitality of the contemporary crime-fiction genre, these twenty-eight chilling and unputdownable stories will take you on a trip you’ll never forget.

My Thoughts 

I was delighted to be asked to be a part of this blog tour for the CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour. Admittedly, I don't read that many short stories, often feeling that I like my characters to have time to develop and the plot to play out over a longer period of time. That being said I was completely entranced by this selection. I chose to read them in order. Although it is the kind of book that you could keep dipping into as time allows, I couldn't keep my hands off of it and kept going back for more. 

It is a bit tricky to review these stories individually, firstly I wouldn't want to give anything away and secondly I wouldn't want to single any particular one out as I found them all to be completely compulsive and brilliant. 

As the title suggests this is a mystery tour so locations are abundant here, each story offering something different, some shorter some longer. There are of course lots of murders, a disappearance, mystery and intrigue. Sometimes there is justice and sometimes there isn't. 

I am only full of admiration for the writers who have contributed. Each and every one packing such a punch into so few words. I didn't feel disappointed with any of them and in any way. I will be looking into each and every one of these talented writers and all of their back catalogues, particularly those I haven't encountered before.

This Anthology of Short Stories is an absolute must for all fans of Crime Fiction, it would be a perfect gift for the crime lover in your life. It is an absolute treasure chest and there is something for everyone.

I would like to thank the contributors for the trip although I am not convinced I would like to be on any of those journeys in real life!

About the Author:

Some of the finest international crime writers in an exciting new anthology edited by Martin Edwards, award-winning crime writer and critic, and author of the bestselling and multi-award-winning The Golden Age of Crime. He is also vice chair of The CWA.

Contributions from:
Ann Cleeves, C.L. Taylor, Susi Holliday, Martin Edwards, Anna Mazzola, Carol Anne Davis, Cath Staincliffe, Chris Simms, Christine Poulson, Ed James, Gordon Brown, J.M. Hewitt, Judith Cutler, Julia Crouch, Kate Ellis, Kate Rhodes, Martine Bailey, Michael Stanley, Maxim Jakubowski, Paul Charles, Paul Gitsham, Peter Lovesey, Ragnar Jónasson, Sarah Rayne, Shawn Reilly Simmons, Vaseem Khan, William Ryan and William Burton McCormick

Please do have a look at some of the other stops on the blog tour: