blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Death Among the Diamonds – Fliss Chester

Everyone in 1920s London knows the Honourable Cressida Fawcett: fiercely independent (though never apart from her little pug Ruby), lover of martinis and interior designer extraordinaire. She’s solved many crimes of fashion… so how about murder?

Cressida Fawcett is heading to the English countryside for a weekend of cocktails and partying at her friend’s glamorous mansion, the location of a recent diamond heist. But just hours after her arrival, Cressida is woken by an almighty scream. Rushing to the landing, she looks down into the great hall to find a trembling maid standing next to the body of Harry, the friendly young chandelier cleaner.

Everyone believes Harry’s death was an accident. But as Cressida examines the opulent hall and the beautiful grounds, she thinks something darker is afoot. Why clean a chandelier in the early hours of the morning? And who overheard Harry boasting about coming into unexpected wealth? A small piece of torn silk found near the body has Cressida looking at the guests’ elegant clothes with fresh eyes…

The short-tempered Detective insists that she keeps her curious nose out of the investigation, but it’s Cressida who realises the stolen diamonds were hidden in the sparkling chandelier. Convinced there is a connection between the theft and the murder, the case takes a sinister turn when a guest is killed in his sleep after a brandy-fuelled night of cards. With everyone unable to leave, can Cressida’s sharp eye for detail catch the killer before another life is taken?

An absolutely gripping and utterly charming 1920s murder mystery packed with wit, glamour and intrigue. The perfect whodunnit for fans of Agatha Christie, T.E. Kinsey and Downton Abbey!

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Audio Links: UK US 

Listen to a sample here

Fliss Chester lives in Surrey with her husband and writes historical cozy crime. When she is not killing people off in her 1940s whodunnits, she helps her husband, who is a wine merchant, run their business. Never far from a decent glass of something, Fliss also loves cooking (and writing up her favourite recipes on her blog), enjoying the beautiful Surrey and West Sussex countryside and having a good natter.

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My thoughts: this was lots of fun, Cressida(and pug sidekick Ruby) pop over from their Chelsea flat to visit Dotty, Crssida’s best friend, whose family home has suddenly become host to a series of crimes – theft of diamonds and a murder! Luckily, as well as impeccable taste in interiors, Cressida is an excellent solver of mysteries – if the detective from Scotland Yard would just stop telling her off!

Someone in the house knows something, but is it a guest or a member of the family or someone below stairs?

I really enjoyed this, these historical crime books are fun, all huge country houses and locked rooms, lots of eyes and ears but no one saw or heard anything and there’s always a ghastly aunt or brother or in this case fiance to fend off too. Cressida and Ruby are an entertaining pair, one with a nose for crime and one with a nose for sausages! More 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 Silent Oath – Michael L. Lewis

The Silent Oath is the fourth in The Oath series that depicts life at Blackleigh Public School, and also serves as a stand-alone novel.

1958. Jonathan Simon, 17, is in his fourth year at Blackleigh. Self-conscious about his appointment as one of five Prefects in Trafalgar House, he’s apprehensive as to whether he has what it takes to carry
out his responsibilities.
Jonathan knows: 1) The school code of conduct mandates no snitching on anyone. 2) The student Prefects have absolute power to discipline. 3) Mr. Phillip Temple the new Headmaster is determined
to revise the school admission policy to achieve a more even playing field in education.
The pressure mounts in an unforgettable school trip to Paris, prejudice spreading through the school and to the school’s Board of Governors as they ruthlessly oppose the new Head. They will stop at
nothing to get their way. In his effort to strive to support the Headmaster’s goals, Jonathan will have

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Michael L. Lewis was born and raised in England. After preparatory school in London, he was educated at Stowe School, Buckingham. This is the fourth novel in the Oath series, taking readers on a journey through the lives of three dynamic schoolboys between the ages of 13 and 15. Michael now lives in Los Angeles, California, has a law degree, and writes full-time. He was on the Board of
Trustees for several schools and has been a member of the same book club for twenty-five years.

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My thoughts: returning to this rather awful school where violence and racism seethe behind closed doors and where the teachers seem completely oblivious to the terrible things the boys do to one another, was interesting. Jonathan is now a prefect, and girls have joined the school.

There’s a new Headmaster with a radical plan to make the school a more inclusive place, but a vicious gang of thugs are determined to stop this and get rid of Jonathan too.

Their evil campaign costs one young boy his life, but they won’t stop. The cruelty is random and focused. But Jonathan and his friends, including the clever and lovely Jenny, are willing to fight back.

There was bullying at my school certainly, but nothing like this. I honestly don’t see how the staff remain so ignorant of it. I think they must be choosing to do so. Which is sad and should see more of them sacked. The ghastly Hunter finally gets his comeuppance, though I don’t think he’s quite done with Jonathan yet, especially as his younger brother remains at the school. Intense and shocking, clever and honestly quite disturbing, this series continues to pack quite a punch.

*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: Dreadful Beauty – L.M. Rapp

A girl undergoing a terrifying transformation goes on an epic quest to find a refuge from her ruthless father.

Nymphosis, a disease that turns Humans into Chimeras, is ravaging the land of Gashom. The More-Than-Pure, determined to protect themselves, have seized power and enacted segregationist laws. 

The daughter of a high dignitary, young Neria learns she is afflicted by the very disease her father is determined to eradicate. Forced to surrender her privileges, she must flee her home in the capital and traverse the strange wilds to seek refuge with her fellow kind. 

Will she have the courage to fight oppression to emancipate the Chimeras from the yoke of the More-Than-Pure?

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Interview with the author

On writing:

How did you do research for your book?

The research took place mostly on the internet. A word I stumble upon while writing can instantly turn into several hours of reading. 

Which was the hardest character to write? The easiest?

None of the characters were easy to write about, but certainly the most difficult was the tyrannical father. I read three different books about serial killers before I began to understand the reasoning of a psychopath. 

In your book, you describe the gargoyles’ people. What made you use elements of Gothic architecture for creating these characters?

During a visit to Notre Dame de Paris, I was able to admire the sculptures of gargoyles that adorn its facade. Their mere presence evoked a fabulous universe and served as great inspiration in my novel. 

Where do you get inspiration for your stories?

The ideas seem to me to be floating around, in books, events, and encounters, and that it is enough to sit for long hours in front of a computer screen and concentrate on arranging them in a new way.

There are many books out there about chimeras. What makes yours different?

The story follows a family and a people through a tone that is both intimate and epic, which is rather unusual in this kind of literature. The plot captures the struggles of humanity through a fantasy lens, making it both digestible and thought-provoking.

What advice would you give budding writers?

Don’t give up! Remember that this journey takes time and you won’t find all the answers from the start. Find yourself a smart, professional, and gentle literary advisor who can guide you in the process.

If you could put yourself as a character in your book, who would you be?

I think I would like to be Matar, the Pedler. I envy his freedom and independence, despite the difficulties he faces in his life. 

Do you have another profession besides writing?

I have had other professions in the past, but writing has become my main focus at the moment. I still practice and teach aikido, which actually turns out to be really useful when I write combat scenes. 

How long have you been writing?

I’ve only been writing for five years, but I’ve been reading every day for as long as I can remember, which certainly helped me a lot.

Do you ever get writer’s block? What helps you overcome it?

Never. I think the writer’s block happens when you force yourself. I take the first topic that comes to my mind and I write only about what strikes me as exciting. I make no judgment during the first phase of writing. I let the ideas flow. 

What is your next project?

I will soon publish a thriller about a woman who decides, after a divorce, to take over her parents’ farm: a return to nature that does not go as planned. I also just started writing a science fiction book.

What genre do you write and why?

I choose the story first. The genre follows. I don’t force myself to create series. I think that having fun while writing increases the chances that the reader will have fun too.

What is the last great book you’ve read?

Lately, I’ve read Philip Roth’s Human Stain. I found the beginning of this book stunning and the scenes taking place around the main protagonist and the university’s life incredibly well done. 

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?

My favorite compliment is that once started, it’s difficult to put the book down.

How are you similar to or different from your lead character?

It’s a difficult question. I’m too close to her to tell. The similarity would be that she doesn’t give up easily. That being said, I find her more stubborn than I am.

If your book were made into a movie, who would star in the leading roles?

Odeya Rush for Neria, the heroine.

Lior Raz, for the Pedler

Lior Ashkenazi, for Valterone, the ruthless father.

What were the biggest rewards and challenges with writing your book?

It was incredible to see a world coming into life out of my mind. The greatest challenge was to make it right—to find the right balance between all the elements.

In one sentence, what was the road to publishing like?

It’s a difficult, but worthwhile road.

Which authors inspired you to write?

Tolkien, Barbara Pym, Kazuo Ishiguro, Camus, Albert Cohen, Proust, Baudelaire and many others.

What is something you had to cut from your book that you wish you could have kept?

I regret nothing because I hope to use these discarded parts for a sequel.

On rituals:

Do you snack while writing? Favorite snack?

I don’t usually snack because it distracts me. But I drink green tea to stay alert.

Where do you write?

I write mostly in my studio, but I also like to write on the go, in coffee shops, hotel rooms or in my car.

Do you write every day?

Six days a week.

What is your writing schedule?

I’m a morning person, so I usually start writing as soon as my youngest daughter leaves for school. I write at least two hours a day, sometimes more, and Iusually keep the afternoons for other activities, like publishing and marketing.

Is there a specific ritualistic thing you do during your writing time?

I just sit down and look at my computer screen, my hands ready on the keyboard and my mind traveling.

In today’s tech-savvy world, most writers use a computer or laptop. Have you ever written parts of your book on paper?

No. I’ve just drawn a diagram for the protagonists’ relationship and a map.

If you’re a mom writer, how do you balance your time?

I’m a mom, but my daughters are quite grown up now. So it’s less of an issue, although I have the best focus time in the mornings when everybody is still sleeping or busy.

Fun stuff:

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

I would like to be able to move in time according to my research. For example, take a leap into antiquity to observe the hotels of that era. It would be amazing if we could see everything in person instead of relying on archaeological digs or writing found on the internet.

Favorite travel spot?

New York

Favorite dessert?

I try to cut off sugar, so no dessert for me please.

If you were stuck on a deserted island, which three books would you want with you?

I’d take Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Barbara Pym’s Some Tame Gazelle, and Proust’s In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower.

What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you? The scariest? The strangest? 

I was kidnapped by aliens who looked like Buster Keaton. Just kidding… I live a quiet life, like many writers I suppose. Most of my adventures take place in my head.

What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?

I hesitate between leaving France, my birth country, or having three children.

Any hobbies? Or Name a quirky thing you like to do.

The main ones right now are Aikido and basketry. I like making sculptures or baskets with branches I find in the garden.

If there is one thing you want readers to remember about you, what would it be?

I’d prefer they’ll remember my books. That’s where I store the most important things I have to say.

What is something you’ve learned about yourself during the pandemic?

I love silence and quiet, but the pandemic was too much, even for me.

What TV series are you currently binge-watching?

Severance

What is your favorite thing to do in summer?

Swimming and eating mango.

What song is currently playing on a loop in your head?

“Eem rak taskimi” by The Idan Raichel Project

What is your go-to breakfast item?

No breakfast. I started intermittent fasting a few years ago and I found it keeps my mind clear until the first meal of the day.

What is the oldest item of clothing you own?

A fox fur collar that belonged to my great-grandmother. My mother passed it down to me. Even though I oppose the use of animal fur for clothing, I can’t get rid of it.

Tell us about your longest friendship.

My friend Sylvie lives in France. I met her in high school and even though our paths parted, every time we speak on the phone or meet (rarely), it’s like we’re immediately back in the old days. 

Who was your childhood celebrity crush?

When they were first released, Star Wars and Indiana Jones were some sort of revelation. And Harrison Ford was the handsome cool hero in both of them.

L.M. Rapp has lived in different countries and practiced several professions: dentist, web developer, artist, aikido teacher, farmer. Eager to learn and discover, she uses her experiences to enrich her stories. She has also written a thriller, Of Flesh and Tears.

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Excerpt

One moment, she had been enjoying the security and comfort of her family home. The next, she was left helpless in a deserted square. An oil lamp rested in Neria’s hand. A clay container, filled with a greenish-yellow liquid. A wick, coiled within its heart, snaked up to the groove that guided it into the open air. A flame danced on its tip, a paltry defense against the darkness of that night, one of those gentle nights that often follow the heat of the day. The moon watched her with a wry smile.

Neria suddenly felt she was going to collapse, crumpling like a sheet that had fallen to the ground. Without the warmth of the hand curled inside hers, she would have indeed done so. She remembered the last time she had seen Arhel’s hand, crimson and reaching out of the covers. Who knew what the disease would do to her? But before she succumbed to it, she would save Anaëlle.

She breathed in, then out, and took a step forward. Her aching limbs strained at first, but after a few minutes, she was walking briskly, her head bowed like a servant, the child in tow. First, she had to find the secret passage her mother had told her about and cross the wall of the High District without going through the ever-guarded gates.

She came to a dead-end and saw the dried-up well and a withered pistachio tree lined with shrubs of rosemary leaning against the perimeter wall. It concealed a narrow, low opening. She went in first, crawled into a tunnel bereft of cobwebs and emerged behind an olive tree, also surrounded by shrubbery. Crouching down, she peeked between the branches. No one was there. She called to Anaëlle in a hushed voice, the child joining her. They emerged from their cover and arrived on the street. Before long, they had made their way to an impoverished part of town they had never been to before. The hovels were huddled together, separated here and there by narrow, randomly arranged passageways. The first on the left… The second on the right…

“Hey there, little lady! Where are you off to in such a hurry?”

Three guards had concealed themselves in a nook to drink to their hearts’ content.

“Lady Yarine’s sent me on an urgent errand.”

She hoped they would be too drunk to do anything and turned away. She tried to maintain her composure, a technique that had worked for her that morning. Yet heavy footsteps came ever closer behind her before her arm was seized by a coarse grip.

“You’ve got more than enough time to come give us a little cuddle.”

One of the guards looked at her, a yellow smile spread across his brown beard. He reeked of alcohol and nauseating filth. She tried to pull away from him, but his grip tightened.

“Stay still or we’ll give you a good hiding. It’ll go better for you if you don’t put up a fight, believe me. Leave the kid here and come on.”

The two others approached.

The lamp fell and shattered. Neria took out her knife and stuck it in the arm restraining her. The guard howled in pain and let go of her.

“You’re going to regret that you whore.”

The guards now surrounded her. She threatened them with her bloodied weapon. She couldn’t believe she’d been so stupid not to have stabbed him in the stomach. Her assailant barely seemed bothered. She spun around, Anaëlle clinging to her clothes. The girl was sobbing.

One of the men drew his sword, “Drop the knife or I kill the kid.”

Neria’s hand trembled. The knife fell on the dusty ground with a dull thud.

“Run, Anaëlle, get out of here!” 

The wounded guard threw himself on her, seized her elbow, slipped behind her, and choked her with his good arm.

The child, small and spirited, ran away. Just as Neria thought she was going to make it, the man with the sword grabbed her mid-flight.

Neria struggled, hitting the arm that choked her. His hold tightened. Her mouth gasped but the air would not come, and her movements weakened. Suddenly, the guard holding her let out a yowl of pain and released her. She collapsed, heavily panting gulps of air on all fours. Her assailant lay there with his throat slit. The coarse, black-nailed hand that moments before had clamped down on her arm now clawed at the earth. The corpse’s glassy eyes stared up into the starry sky. His red tongue in his gaping mouth, his fleshy lips, his fat cheeks swallowed by his beard… like a giant sea urchin washed up from the sea, his insides hanging open. A shrill cry rang out and she covered her ears.

A monster, half-man, half-beast, had ripped open another guard and had now set its sights on the third. The remaining guard was still holding Anaëlle hostage and keeping the beast at bay with his sword.

While the tiger and guard danced their macabre dance, Neria, still on all fours, fumbled for her knife. She grasped its hilt, ran towards the soldier, raising her weapon, a wild howling in her throat. The monster took advantage of the diversion to pounce on its adversary. Neria sheathed her knife, picked up the child who had fallen to the ground, and fled, pursued by screams of agony.


The construction of the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris started in the 12th century. At the beginning, water flowed from the roofs onto the streets, splashing the walls of the building. Gargoyles in the shape of fantastic winged animals appeared in the early 13th century. They served as gutters and became decorative elements inspired by the medieval bestiary.

Portrait of a man – 1957 “I have a great interest in madness, and I am convinced art has much to do with madness,” Jean Dubuffet

On a trip, about ten years ago, I admired these motionless and threatening gargoyles without the faintest idea of the journey they would later take me. Premier and medieval art seem to possess an evocative power that the more modern arts, bogged down in their technicality and theories, have lost. I’m not sure that, as the painter Dubuffet wrote, “Art has much to do with madness,” but clearly art, like fairy tales, often finds its inspiration in our fears and anxieties.

Bored Gargoyle of Notre Dame de Paris

According to art historian Michael Camille, “To protect himself from the demons he is charged with sculpting, the medieval artist mocks them.” No doubt that the attentive observer will be able to perceive, barely masked by ferocity, a sense of saving humor. For isn’t it through humor that we tame our fears?

I myself have developed an obsession for these magical creatures. They have crossed time and borders. From superstition and religious beliefs, they have invaded popular culture and can be found on the Internet, in archaeological or modern art museums, fantasy books, Marvel movies, Disney cartoons, Japanese manga, video games, and elsewhere.

In ancient Greece, the word Chimaera referred to a hybrid creature capable of breathing fire, a lion with a goat’s head and a serpent’s tail. Such a mosaic of animals leaves one dreaming. Dracula seems so conformist in comparison.

Manticore of a medieval bestiary

The manticore, a legendary monster of Persian origin and imported in Europe by a Greek doctor, has the body of a red-furred lion, a man’s face, and a tail with poisonous spines that it projects on its prey – preferably human. It devours them, bones included, thanks to its three rows of teeth, going from one ear to the other. It symbolizes evil. Over the years, it seems to have evolved into the Sphinx. Of all these characteristics, the mouth is the most frightening to me. Human-like at first sight, until it opens wider and wider to reveal too many sharp teeth… 

Ancient Nue versus modern one

The Japanese have their Nue with the head of a monkey, the limbs of a tiger, the body of a tanuki and the tail of a snake. Now it stars in a Baruto anime. 

Forg, cover detail of the French version. Don’t be fooled by appearances.

I decided to paint these hybrid creatures, to invent some of my own, and to tell their stories. In the 19th century, Violet-le-Duc added chimeras to the roofs of the Notre Dame de Paris cathedral. They received a lot of praise at the time and inspired me to create a gargoyle people, fierce, mischievous, and tender. 

I’ve only brushed this vast and complex subject, and I’m sure that you too have your favorite chimera. Which one do you prefer? Which one scares you the most? 


My thoughts: this was an interesting book featuring gargoyles and chimera, hybrid beasts often found in ancient mythology. Neria is a bit of a spoilt brat to begin with but she has to find her inner strength when her mother sneaks her and her niece out of the house to protect them from her father’s cruelty as Neria starts to become the very thing she has been taught to fear – a chimera. Her niece can see the future – mainly the actions of her own parents, but that too puts her in danger.

Change can be literal but also metaphorical – Neria might be shifting into a different form but she also has to change her world view and become strong enough to fight back against her father and his cruel, murderous policies that would see her killed.

*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: A Taste of Iron and Gold – Alexandra Rowland

The Goblin Emperor meets “Magnificent Century” in Alexandra Rowland’s A Taste of Gold and Iron, where a queer central romance unfolds in a fantasy world reminiscent of the Ottoman Empire.

Kadou, the shy prince of Arasht, finds himself at odds with one of the most powerful ambassadors at court—the body-father of the queen’s new child—in an altercation which results in his humiliation.

To prove his loyalty to the queen, his sister, Kadou takes responsibility for the investigation of a break-in at one of their guilds, with the help of his newly appointed bodyguard, the coldly handsome Evemer, who seems to tolerate him at best. In Arasht, where princes can touch-taste precious metals with their fingers and myth runs side by side with history, counterfeiting is heresy, and the conspiracy they discover could cripple the kingdom’s financial standing and bring about its ruin.

My thoughts: it took me a while to understand how the world in this book works, and how people relate to each other as the court is very formal and full of rules about who can do or say what to whom. But once I got my head around all of the traditions and relationships, it all flowed very nicely.

The Prince, Kadou, wants to cement his bond with his sister – the Queen, and his new baby niece, who he’s very fond of, and by taking on a complex investigation into counterfeit coins, the Shipbuilder’s Guild and some of the servants closest to the royal family. There’s a conspiracy here and he must get to the heart of it before anyone he cares for is placed in danger.

I liked the growing connection between Kadou and his bodyguard Evemer, the complex layers of servitude and courtly manners making it hard for them to even say exactly what they mean at times. But as they grow closer, it takes on more complexity as Kadou’s former guard is still around and still trying to foster a relationship with Kadou that he doesn’t want. I really liked Eozena – the guard captain and also the only person allowed to tell the Queen and Prince what to do. She was very funny at times, bossing Kadou about in her affectionate, almost parental way.

Kadou was at first quite hard to read, he’s shy and quite reserved, keeping things to himself and struggling to form friendships and connections. Kept separate from most people because of his status, he struggles to bond but with Evemer, he opens up. It’s rather sweet.

The world building was fascinating and complex, lots of layers and etiquette involved. The story was clever, with the conspiracy and counterfeiting, something you might expect royalty to have nothing to do with, cutting right to the heart and Kadou having to become a detective to solve it with Eozena and Evemer to help him.

*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: Someone Like You – Rachel Dove

One broken marriage. One broken heart. One chance to meet someone new.

Hannah leaves her unhappy marriage with her daughter Ava and moves to the village of Leadsham to start afresh. She plans to keep a low profile, focusing on Ava and making a new life for them, far away from her violent ex-husband.

What she hadn’t counted on was Andrew Brody. A police officer with a strict moral code, he knows something’s wrong as soon as he meets Hannah, and he wants to help. But Hannah has been let down by the police – and men – before, and pushes him away.

But the more Hannah tries to ignore Brody, the more she’s drawn to him. Caring, kind and patient, he’s nothing like the man she’s running from. Can Hannah finally put her past behind her, and open her heart to someone new?

My thoughts: as the author says, domestic violence can happen to anyone, but maybe that person will be as lucky as Hannah, whose friend Kate helps her leave and the new home she finds is full of kind people who want to help her, if she can just open up.

She finds new friends, a new job, and a new love, if she can let him, and his dog, in. Brody is a police dog handler, Bullet his partner and Hannah the mysterious woman he’s falling in love with. Bullet prefers baby Ava – notorious as babies are for dropping food, perfect pal for a hungry pooch.

Hannah’s running scared and can’t trust anyone but as she starts to settle in to her new life and the bruises fade, maybe it’s time to. As long as her awful husband doesn’t find them.

Written sensitively and with obvious compassion, this is the best possible outcome for someone fleeing violence, and Hannah finds a new home and a fresh start. Not everyone gets that, but this is a hopeful book, written with heart.

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

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Blog Tour: When Things are Alive They Hum – Hannah Bent

Set between Hong Kong, London and China in the year 2000, When Things are Alive They Hum by Hannah Bent tells the story of two sisters, the grief that shapes them as children and the lengths to which they will go to save each other as adults. Of her debut novel, Hannah says ‘My inspiration is my sister Camilla who is living with Down syndrome. Our relationship has taught me so much about love, life and grief. I do hope that some of the gifts that Camilla has given me may now be passed onto you through this story.’

Harper, born with a congenital heart disorder and living with what she calls the Up syndrome, is happily living in Hong Kong and in a relationship. On the other side of the world, Marlowe is studying a rare species of butterfly when she is called home with devastating news — Harper’s heart is failing and she has been denied a necessary transplant because she is living with a disability. So begins a journey for the two sisters, both fiercely determined to protect the other no matter the sacrifice.

When Things are Alive They Hum poses profound questions about the nature of love and existence, the ways grief changes us, and how we confront the hand fate has dealt us. Intensely moving, exquisitely written and literally humming with wonder, it is a novel that celebrates life in all its guises, and what comes after.

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Hannah Bent completed her Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art and Film from Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design in London. She undertook further study in both directing and screenwriting at the Australian Film and Television and Radio School and has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Technology, Sydney. She was the 2013 recipient of the Ray Koppe Young Writers Award for her novel as a work in progress. Instagram: @hannahbent_author Website: http://www.hannahbent.com

My thoughts: this was lovely, be warned you will need the tissues though. Love is a funny, complicated thing. Marlowe loves Harper, her younger sister, and would do anything for her, but the thought of Harper dying from the heart defect she was born with causes her to spiral.

Harper is very perceptive – she can see the pain her sister is in. Pain that dates back to the death of their mother when they were both very young. Marlowe has been carrying her grief around with her.

As Harper’s condition worsens, Marlowe takes things to an extreme, desperate to save her sister. But she isn’t listening to what Harper wants. It’s only when she starts, that she understands and can stop trying to fix everything.

Beautiful, sad, and intensely moving, this was a joy to read although it made me cry. Harper’s way of seeing the world is magical and colourful, all she wants is to be happy, to be with her family, her friends, her Louis, and her Marlowe. Tender and heartbreaking, I think we all need to try to be a bit more Harper.

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

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Blog Tour: A Lesson in Love and Death – W.H. Lockwood

A Lession in Love and Death copy

Welcome to the book tour for the gorgeous, genre-blurring book, A Lesson in Love and Death by W.H. Lockwood! Read on for more details and a chance to win a $25 Amazon e-gift card!

Front Cover

A Lesson in Love and Death (Endymion College #1)

Expected Publication Date: September 26th, 2022

Genre: Cozy Horror Romance/ Dark Academia

Anna James dreamed of only two things in life: to read books and to not die.

The day she is offered a scholarship to study literature at the beautiful, exclusive and gothic Endymion College, is the happiest day of her life, but soon after arrival, Anna finds it is nothing like the brochure.

Instantly thrust into a dangerous conspiracy, sent to live in a haunted dormitory with a captivating rival, Anna struggles to keep control of her only chance at a better life and to maintain her already tenuous grip on reality.

Things soon go from bad to worse when a séance goes awry, and finding herself pursued by a terrifying spectre, Anna finds comfort and a kindred spirit in her professor of literature: young, devastatingly handsome and completely off-limits.

Anna must find a way to fight both her desire and a relentless supernatural force out for blood, all while completing her work on time to hold on to her precious scholarship.

Darkly humorous, crushingly awkward, deeply romantic, Endymion College: A Lesson in Love and Death is a celebration of the books we love and an action-packed, supernatural, feminist, horror story all rolled into one.
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Teaser

Name?”

Anna James.”
Anna… Ah, I see your roommate has already been and got her key. One moment.”
The handsome yet bored-looking man disappeared into a dimmer and smaller room, only to return seconds later with a faded envelope. “So, we have a small problem, Anna. Your key is missing. Whoever had it last year didn’t bring it back. But it’s all right. We found this one. Except it comes with a warning.”
The man, clearly amused, leaned close in a conspiratorial manner, and raised one expectant eyebrow at Anna as she took the faded envelope from him. The words ‘Do Not Open’ were written across the front in beautiful cursive. Anna’s big eyes and delicate fingers traced over the words.
Don’t worry, it’s not as sinister as it sounds,” he continued. “In here is, or should be, a skeleton key. It will open all the doors in your apartment. Which is fine, because there are only two, but one of those is the old hanging door.”
Hanging door?”
Hanging door. You’ll see when you get there. You’re on the second floor. There used to be a staircase leading up the exterior of the building to the door. That staircase has long since rotted away, and now only the door remains. A hanging door. A door to nowhere.” He smiled a dashing smile and Anna couldn’t decide if he had gone insane with boredom or if he was flirting. Or both.
Oh, I see.”
His tone and face changed in an instant. “Do not open that door. I don’t care what happens. Don’t let the air through, don’t look at the view, don’t touch the thing. Health and safety, you know? It’s rotting in its hinges and it could fall out at any moment. I shouldn’t even be giving you this, but, well, I know how it is. You can’t always rely on your roommate.” He tapped on an old, laminated map that was stuck to the counter with brown, peeling sticky tape. “You’re in the old building, here.”
Older than this building?”
Oh yes. A good two hundred years older. Go back the way you came and straight across the courtyard. Your building is opposite this one. You will be in the east wing, so turn right when you go inside. You’re on the top floor at the very end of the building. You have the corner view.”
Anna was absolutely delighted. She signed for her key, thanked the man, and made to leave.
Ms James?”
Yes?” As Anna looked at him, she noted a strange intensity in his manner, in his stormy, blue eyes.
That key—that’s our little secret. Really, I probably shouldn’t have given it to you. Don’t tell anyone and don’t let anyone else borrow it. Not even your roommate. And whatever you do, don’t bring it back here…”

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About the Author

Author

W.H. Lockwood writes feminist gothic and historical fiction, dark academia and cosy horror, all with a romantic twist.

Raised on a diet of Point books and Pepsi, only willing to leave her den to attend chess club at public school, W.H. Lockwood started writing at a young age and has kept this passion throughout her life.

Always a voracious reader, she obtained an undergraduate degree in literary studies from a gorgeous sandstone university, following that with a master’s degree in publishing and editing, then another master’s degree in astronomy, thus uniting her two great loves of the arts and science, leaving her utterly unqualified to cope with the real world.

These days, W.H. Lockwood works as a professional editor and can often be found aimlessly wandering through the coffee shops and bookstores of the beautiful city she calls home.

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My thoughts: Anna wins an illustrious scholarship to Endymion College, all excited to study literature and make new friends. Given a mysterious key that unlocks a door to nowhere, she soon finds herself in the middle of the strange relationship between her roommate Candi (Candide) and tutor Evelyn (like Waugh). There’s also a ghost haunting their room and possibly a demon. In between classes they’re fighting evil. If Candi and Eve can stop bickering long enough.

I liked Anna, completely out of her depth with everything but keen to tackle it head on and make a fresh start. Despite her attraction to Eve and hunky priest Joe. There’s a lot of hanging around waiting to fight the demon in their apartment and ward off the resident ghosts. Candi and Eve were a bit harder to like, they both keep a lot hidden and their relationship is messy and strange. Looking forward to book two though and what new chaos they get into.

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Blog Tour: The Santa Killer – Ross Greenwood

The Santa Killer is coming to town…
One night less than two weeks before Christmas, a single mother is violently assaulted. It’s a brutal crime at the time of year when there should be goodwill to all. When DI Barton begins his investigation, he’s surprised to find the victim is a woman with nothing to hide and no reason for anyone to hurt her.
A few days later, the mother of the woman attacked rings the police station. Her granddaughter has drawn a shocking picture. It seems she was looking out of the window when her mother was attacked. And when her grandmother asks the young girl who the person with the weapon is, she whispers two words.
Bad Santa.
The rumours start spreading, and none of the city’s women feel safe – which one of them will be next?
He’s got a list. It’s quite precise. It won’t matter even if you’re nice.
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Ross Greenwood is the author of crime thrillers. Before becoming a full-time writer he was most recently a prison officer and so worked everyday with murderers, rapists and thieves for four years.
He lives in Peterborough.

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My thoughts: a final case for DI Barton and the team before he takes a job at force HQ with regular hours and less danger (trainees can be lethal!). It’s Christmas and someone dressed as Santa is bopping women over the head and leaving them bloodied and terrified.

Barton is soon on the case, digging into suspects and it all seems to centre on a bathroom and kitchen shop just outside town. Both victims worked there. Something isn’t right and Barton is keen to find out. A similar spree of violence across several counties seems to be headed towards Peterborough. Can Barton identify the perpetrator in time?

Another excellent read, lots happening and suspects abound. Barton continues to be a strong protagonist and holds the story together well, it’s a shame this is the last in this series – although I’m looking forward to the author’s next project.

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

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Blog Tour: This Is Us – Helen McGinn

A story about friends, sisters, motherhood and starting again – one day at a time…
Stella fell in love with Simon hard and fast. He was everything she wanted in a husband, and he seemed to feel the same way about her. More than a decade of marriage later, life is sweet. They
have three much-wanted children, a successful business, and a comfortable London home. What more could Stella possibly want?
But then, out of the blue, Simon is gone. Vanished. No one knows where he’s gone or why.
Now Stella, with the help of her friends and family, has to pick up the pieces of her and her children’s life, all the while wondering what she missed. Was her husband who he said he was, and
can she trust her own memories of their life together?
Helen McGinn’s latest novel is a love story to friendship, sisters, motherhood and starting again – one day at a time. Perfect for fans of Elizabeth Noble, Cathy Kelly and JoJo Moyes.
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Helen McGinn is a much-loved wine expert on TV and in print and an international wine judge. She spent ten years as a supermarket buyer sourcing wines around the world before setting up her
award-winning blog (and now best-selling wine book) The Knackered Mother’s Wine Club. She is the drinks writer for the Daily Mail and regularly appears on TV’s Saturday Kitchen and This Morning.
Helen lives in the New Forest.

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My thoughts: as someone whose husband recently left them, I totally resonated with Stella. Although I don’t think mine has done all of the awful things Simon has. I loved her hilarious group of friends – Sarah, Lucy and Bridget, and even her supposedly uptight but actually rather nice sister too. The kids were sweet and well behaved and the dog. The trip to Florence sounds amazing (I went when I was 14 but need to go again as a grown up) and her trip to Oban to solve the mystery of Simon’s past gave her a new friend and some answers.

A really enjoyable, light hearted book about friendship, sisters, family and beginning again, but in a good way. Stella is warm and kind and knows what she wants. As we all should.

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

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Blog Tour: Three Small Bones – Jennifer Chase

Smoke curls from what’s left of the beautiful family home on the edge of the woods. The heat is unbearable as she descends the stairs to the basement, past a set of bicycles––two big, one small. That’s when she sees three little white bones in the cracked earth at her feet, turning her blood to ice…

When firefighters tackling a blazing house in a quiet suburb of Pine Valley, California discover human remains, Detective Katie Scott races to 717 Maple Street. She calls a halt to the excavations the moment she sees the full number and size of the bones; someone has buried a whole family down here.

Working night and day, it’s up to Katie to prove her theory that the fire was no accident, that someone wanted to expose the secret in the basement. Tiny traces of explosives residue found at the scene is all the proof she needs. But the Cross family have been missing for months––leaving friends and loved ones in agonizing pain––what twisted soul would do this now? And why?

The case takes another heart-shattering turn when Katie’s suspicions over recent renovation work on the house leads to the discovery of more bodies in the back yard: two little girls, buried years apart. What other devastating secrets are hidden in this perfect family home? It’s a dead end at every turn as Katie tracks down anyone who knew the family. Just when it looks like all hope is lost, reports of the Cross’s landlord harassing the family before they went missing gives Katie a crucial lead. With a menacing grey sedan following her every move, how many more innocent lives will be lost before Katie can dig up the truth?

An absolutely gripping and totally addictive thriller from a USA Today and Amazon bestselling author. It will keep you racing through the pages all night long––fans of Lisa Regan, Rachel Caine and Melinda Leigh will devour in one sitting!Amazon

Jennifer Chase is a multi award-winning and best-selling crime fiction author, as well as a consulting criminologist. Jennifer holds a bachelor degree in police forensics and a master’s degree in criminology & criminal justice. These academic pursuits developed out of her curiosity about the criminal mind as well as from her own experience with a violent psychopath, providing Jennifer with deep personal investment in every story she tells.

In addition, she holds certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling. She is an affiliate member of the International Association of Forensic Criminologists, and member of the International Thriller Writers.

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My thoughts: I love this series, I can’t decide if Cisco or Gav is my favourite though, Katie has the best dog and detective partner! This time they’re looking for a killer who buried his victims under a house. There’s four bodies, a family and a set of bones that’s significantly older.

As Katie and Gav investigate, their team become targets. Is it the killer? Witnesses aren’t safe either. Someone doesn’t want anyone to find out what they’ve done.

I was totally gripped as always, the tension rachets up as more people face the killer and he keeps slipping away. Can Katie and Gav stop him before he kills again? More 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.