blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Wake – Shelley Burr

For fans of Jane Harper’s The Dry or Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects, a searing debut crime novel set in the Australian outback, where the grief and guilt surrounding an unsolved disappearance still haunt a small farming community…and will ultimately lead to a reckoning.

The tiny outback town of Nannine lies in the harsh red interior of Australia. Once a thriving center of stockyards and sheep stations, years of punishing drought have petrified the land and Nannine has been whittled down to no more than a stoplight, a couple bars, and a police station. And it has another, more sinister claim to fame: the still-unsolved disappearance of young Evelyn McCreery nineteen years ago.

Mina McCreery’s life has been defined by the intense public interest in her sister’s case—which is still a hot topic in true-crime chat rooms and on social media. Now an anxious and reclusive adult, Mina lives alone on her family’s sunbaked destocked sheep farm.

Enter Lane Holland, a young private investigator who dropped out of the police academy to earn a living cracking cold cases. Before she died, Mina’s mother funded a million-dollar reward for anyone who could explain how Evelyn vanished from her bed in the family’s farmhouse. The lure of cash has only increased public obsession with Evelyn and Mina—but yielded no answers.

Lane wins Mina’s trust when some of his more unconventional methods show promise. But Lane also has darker motivations, and his obsession with the search will ultimately risk both their lives—and yield shocking results.

Compulsively readable, with an unforgettable setting and cast of characters, WAKE is a powerful, unsparing story of how trauma ripples outward when people’s private tragedies become public property, and how it’s never too late for the truth to come out.

My thoughts: this story unfolds slowly, both Lane and Mina have kept things secret, things that help build up the truth about what really happened to Evelyn. It’s only when they start being honest, with each other and the police, that answers surface.

The stark landscape of Mina’s family farm, the small town that she’s stayed in despite her isolation, the world she’s built for herself, letting no one in, isolates her. Lane has also isolated himself – only his sister in his life.

The story is intense and insidious, layer after layer of secrets, lies and finally the truth is peeled open. Clever and compelling, it’s not hard to see why this won the Debut Dagger at the CWAs.

*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: Tasting Sunlight – Ewald Arenz, translated by Rachel Ward

Teenager Sally has just run away from a clinic where she is to be treated for anorexia. She’s furious with everything and everyone, and wants to be left in peace. Liss is in her forties, living alone on a large farm that she runs single­handedly. She has little contact with the outside world, and no need for other people.

From their first meeting, Sally realises that Liss isn’t like other adults; she expects nothing of Sally and simply accepts who she is, offering her a bed for the night with no questions asked.

The first night lengthens into weeks as Sally starts to find pleasure in working with the bees, feeding the chickens, and harvesting potatoes. Eventually an unlikely friendship develops and these two damaged women slowly open up – connecting to each other, reconnecting with themselves, and facing the darkness in their pasts through their shared work on the land

Ewald Arenz was born in Nurnberg in 1965, where he now teaches. He has won various national and regional awards for literature; among them the Bavarian State Prize for Literature and the great Nuremberg Prize for Literature. One of seven children, he enjoys nature, woodturning, biking, swimming, and drinking tea. He lives with his family in Germany. #TastingSunlight #JubilantJune @EwaldArenz

My thoughts: this is a rather strange but beautiful love story. Sally runs away from the mental health unit her parents have sent her to, and finds shelter on Liss’ family farm. Both women are wounded and lonely, together they slowly start to heal.

But Sally’s parents and the authorities are looking for her, and in finding her they drag up Liss’ sad, painful past. This time Sally will be the one helping Liss recover and move on. Their bond is fragile, and the farm is full of complicated memories, but among the pear trees and vines, there is the gentle hope for the future.

Moving, tender and bittersweet, I was swept up into the world Liss and Sally create for themselves as they harvest the fruit and go about their daily chores. The outside world brings them pain so they seek to hide from it. Something I think we can all relate to at times.

*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: Who Do You Think You Are Maggie Pink? –

Maggie Pink is a lot of things to a lot of people, but does she know who she really is?
Maggie is a mother to a stroppy teenager, a wife to a befuddled husband, and a daughter to two very different women. She has always known she’s adopted, but has she ever understood what that means? Not really.
Following the death of her mother, Maggie finally feels able to go in search of her birth mother Morag, and heads to the Highlands of Scotland with her disgruntled daughter Roxie in tow, leaving her crumbling marriage to worry about another day.
The family reunion is bittersweet, but everything is blown wide open when Roxie unearths Morag’s explosive teenage diaries. Why did Morag give Maggie away? What really happened all those years
ago, and how have the echoes of the past resounded through the generations, like ripples in a puddle?
And when all the secrets and promises are out in the open, will Maggie finally have an answer to the question – who do you think you are Maggie Pink?
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Janet Hoggarth is the number one bestselling author of The Single Mums’ Mansion and the highly successful Single Mums’ subsequent series. She has worked on a chicken farm, as a bookseller, a
children’s book editor, a children’s author, and as a DJ (under the name of Whitney and Britney!).
She lives with her family in East Dulwich, London. Her first book for Boldwood will be published in 2022.

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My thoughts: this was a bittersweet story about family, history repeating itself, and the different ways we express love. Maggie travels to Scotland to learn about her late birth mother – Morag, teenage daughter in tow and discovers a whole life she never lived.

Her aunt Fiona and Morag’s friend Issy bring her mother back to life with their memories and Morag’s own teenage diaries. Which reveal several other kettles of fish. Intergenerational trauma and secrets are revealed as Maggie gets to know the family she didn’t have and Roxie comes to see her own parents in a different light too.

Heartwarming and also very sad in places, this is a powerful and moving book about mothers, daughters and why we all need to communicate better.

*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 Harvest Murder – Frances Evesham

One unexplained disappearance is strange, but two are sinister.
In Lower Hembrow, an idyllic village nestled beneath Ham Hill in Somerset, the villagers are preparing to enjoy the autumn traditions of the rural English countryside until Joe Trevillion, a
curmudgeonly local farmer and the father of six children, vanishes.
When Adam Hennessy, the ex-detective proprietor of The Plough, the village’s popular Inn, investigates, he finds ominous undercurrents beneath apparently harmless rumour and gossip.
Meanwhile, a vicious campaign of vindictiveness forces Adam and his three amateur sleuth friends to dig deep into the secret lives of their neighbours to expose the source of a cruel vendetta and prevent another death.
As they uncover the disturbing truth, the friends learn they must also lay their own past lives to rest before they can hope to make their dreams for the future come true.
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Frances Evesham is the bestselling author of the hugely successful Exham-on-Sea murder mysteries set in her home county of Somerset, and the Ham-Hill cosy crime series set in South Somerset.

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My thoughts: even the most picturesque villages hide dark deeds and not very nice people. Somerset village Ham Hill apparently hosts a few unpleasant and murderous souls. Also a donkey kidnapper (the donkey is fine).

Someone seems to have it out for artist Dan, after a series of cruel sabotages, could they be blaming him for a tragic accident years before? And where’s Joe gone? His wife and six children need him home, as do the cows, they won’t milk themselves after all.

Luckily Adam and his friends are on hand to dig into both these cases and assist the local police. Joe isn’t as blameless as he seems and Dan needs to deal with the past before he and his son can move on.

Highly enjoyable as always and there’s a rather fiendish murder to solve – a very Agatha Christie sort of death. Though I think I’ll skip Somerset on my next visit to the West Country.

*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: Sister Agatha – Domhnall O’Donaghue

Sister Agatha is 118 years of age, whose vim and vigour would put the most robust athletes to shame. However, during a routine check-up, her doctor claims that she has just a week to live – inconvenient, seeing as the beloved sister once made an improbable vow: to be the oldest person in
the world. At last count, she was the fifth.
Never one to admit defeat, Sister Agatha concocts a bold Plan B. Using her final days, she intends on travelling the world to meet the only four people whose birthday cakes boast more candles than hers.
And then, one by one, she will kill them.

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Hailing from Navan in the royal county of Meath, Domhnall is a graduate of the Bachelor in Acting Studies Programme, Trinity College Dublin, later completing a Master’s in Screenwriting at Dún Laoghaire IADT.
He now works as an actor and a journalist, dividing his time between Galway, where he films TG4’s award-winning series, Ros na Rún, Dublin and Venice, where he and his Italian lover continuously promise their well-worn livers that they will refrain from quaffing so much Prosecco. (Unfortunately, it seems some vows, just like nearby Rome, were not built in a day.)
Wine-drinking aside, for more than four years, Domhnall has also enjoyed the responsibility of being Assistant Editor at Irish Tatler Man, a title whose various awards includes Consumer Magazine of the Year. Thanks to this role, he interviewed a host of high-profile names such as Tommy Hilfiger, Chris Pine, Kevin Spacey, David Gandy, and Jacques Villeneuve.
Domhnall has written for the majority of Ireland’s leading newspapers and magazines, including the Irish Independent, The Irish Times and RTE. He also writes a monthly column in Woman’s Way, the country’s biggest-selling weekly magazine.
His first novel, Sister Agatha: the World’s Oldest Serial Killer, was released in 2016 to critical acclaim (Tirgearr Publishing). His second and third books, Colin and the Concubine and Crazy for You were
published by Mercier Press, Ireland’s oldest publishing house.

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My thoughts: this is a very funny book about a very determined 118 year old nun, who despite her vows and religious belief is about to break a commandment and commit several murders – so she can die safe in the knowledge that she was the oldest living person. But along the way various things happen and her adventures touch the lives of others – for good or bad. She also gets quite lucky at times and the sisters back home in the convent have no idea what she’s up to. There’s some very silly moments, like hiding in a big crate of apples in Warsaw, or hijacking a camel ride in Morocco, but Sister Agatha is going to get her name in the history books, one way or another!

*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

The Boyfriend – Kerry Wilkinson

He went missing when you were sixteen. Was it all your fault?

Trembling with shock, Jodie picks up the old T-shirt. She hasn’t seen it for twenty years. Her boyfriend had been wearing it – her Ben – the day he went missing. The last time anyone saw him alive.

After her dad’s funeral, all Jodie wants is to clear out her childhood home as quickly as possible and get back to life with her son. But a terrifying discovery changes everything she knew about her kind, loving father.

Her boyfriend Ben went missing when they were just teenagers. His parents still stare out the window desperately waiting for him to come home. So how did the T-shirt he was wearing when Jodie saw him walk away from their last date end up in her father’s attic?

The search for answers leads Jodie to an old family friend who knows all her father’s secrets. She can’t shake his questions about her older brother, and the real reason their dad left everything to Jodie, not him. But when a stranger begins to follow her around their little town, and a deadly fire breaks out in her home, it’s clear someone will do anything to stop Jodie finding the truth about Ben’s disappearance. Has Jodie unknowingly put her own son in terrible danger?

An absolutely addictive psychological thriller with a heart-stopping twist, about how even the people we love can hide the darkest secrets. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train, I Am Watching You and Shari Lapena.

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Kerry Wilkinson is from the English county of Somerset but has spent far too long living in the north. It’s there that he’s picked up possibly made-up regional words like ‘barm’ and ‘ginnel’. He pretends to know what they mean.

He’s also been busy since turning thirty: his Jessica Daniel crime series has sold more than a million copies in the UK; he has written a fantasy-adventure trilogy for young adults; a second crime series featuring private investigator Andrew Hunter and the standalone thriller, Down Among The Dead Men.

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My thoughts: how well do we really know our parents? When Jodie finds her dead teenage boyfriend’s t-shirt in her late father’s attic, hidden away, she’s forced to confront events from years ago. Did her dad kill Ben? Or was he protecting someone else? Suddenly her world is upside down and she doesn’t know who to turn to. Then there’s her teenage son, in trouble at school and lying to her.

The man imprisoned for Ben’s death is out and living back in the same town – a brave move or perhaps foolhardy. Everything’s on a collision course and Jodie doesn’t know it yet. Clever, tense and gripping stuff.

*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: Cat and Mouse – M.J. Arlidge

When you think you’re safe,
When you think you’re all alone,
That’s when he’ll come for you…

A silent killer stalks the city, targeting those home alone at night – killing without pity or remorse.

As panic spreads, Detective Inspector Helen Grace leads the investigation, but is herself a hunted woman, her every step dogged by a ruthless killer bent on revenge.

As she tracks the murderer, Grace begins to suspect there is a truly shocking home truth that connects these brutal crimes…

Check the windows, lock the doors – this is a twisted page-turner that will prey on your darkest fears, in the way only M.J. Arlidge can.

Matthew (MJ) Arlidge has worked in television for the last twenty years, specialising in high-end drama production, including prime-time crime serials Silent Witness, Torn, The Little House and, most recently, the hit TV show Innocent. His debut thriller, Eeny Meeny, was the UK’s bestselling crime debut of 2014 and has been followed by nine more DI Helen Grace bestsellers including the latest, All Fall Down. In 2015, his audiobook exclusive Six Degrees of Assassination was a number-one bestseller.

My thoughts: this was very good, nice and suspenseful. The title implies one cat and one mouse, but there are really several. There’s DI Helen Grace and the various individuals after her – from annoying reported Emilia Garanita, to ex-colleague (and lover) Barton, as well as deranged psychopathic psychologist Alex Blythe and his proxy. Then there’s the murderer the police are hunting and DI Helen Grace and the MIT team looking for him. Also the murderer and his victims. Lots of cats, lots of mice, and some mice are also cats. I think my analogy may have lost the plot somewhere there …

However the plot in the book, thankfully, makes a lot more sense and hooked me right in. I have read previous books in this series so I knew it would be good, and pleasingly it was. There seems to be no connection between the victims – a recent mother, a teenage boy, then another woman dies. And the police start to look a bit closer – not just at the victims but also at their families.

Grace is in danger, both from Blythe and his machinations from a distance, but also in danger of losing her job as her boss is trying to find a way to get rid of her – and he just might get it.

Despite the distractions however, Grace and her team are putting the case together and chasing suspects – sometimes quite literally. A cracking read.

*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: Scotsman in the Stacks – Alana Oxford

Paige wants two things: to land a full time librarian job and find the man of her dreams. On the cusp of thirty, she finds herself suddenly single and working part-time in a Michigan library. A handsome patron with a delicious accent appears at the reference desk, inadvertently sparking an idea that
might help her land the promotion she so desperately needs. But that’s not the only thing he sparks.
James is in town from Glasgow, Scotland, on a summer artist residency. Luckily, the trip got him away from the pressure he feels to take over his uncle’s river tour business. He only wanted to clear his head and make his art in peace, but he wasn’t counting on finding an attractive librarian to fill his days.
With only eight weeks before James goes home to Scotland, Paige knows she should protect her heart. After all, she already wasted years with her commitmentphobe ex. But the more she gets to know James, the less she can stick to her plan to just be friends. Is she just wasting her time again, or can they bridge the ocean between them to find a happily ever after of their own?

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Alana Oxford is a Michigan author of romcoms, sweet romance, and humorous
women’s fiction. She wants her stories to bring sunshine and smiles to her readers. She enjoys improv comedy, moody music, everything book related, and has an ongoing love affair with the United Kingdom.

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My thoughts: this was adorable and I love Paige, I might be a bit biased as a former librarian, because librarians are cool. But Paige also seems like a fun, clever person who loves good food (there’s a lot of food in this book) and knows how to have a good time. She’s also a great friend, there when her bestie Kayla really needs her.

Meeting a hunky Scottish artist at work is probably a fantasy for many, but for Paige it happens – James is in town on an art residency, he carves sculptures from wood and is one of several artists preparing for a show.

They start off as friends, Paige worried that a short term thing isn’t what she needs, love blooms between them and everything seems set for a happily ever after. But James receives a call that sends him home to Glasgow – will they find a way to be together?

I really enjoyed this quirky and entertaining book, I quite fancy the idea of visiting Michigan now too!

*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: Five Dead Men – Rachel Green

When the bodies of five men are discovered in a secret vault at the villa Belle Époque, suspicion falls upon the villa’s former owner, enigmatic Pascal Deveraux.
Actor, gambler, general good-for-nothing – Pascal has lived a life of privilege and excess. But with no evidence to implicate him in murder, the case goes unsolved.
Called in to investigate the cold case, it’s not long before Margot’s enquiries re-open old wounds.
Aided by policière municipale, Alia Leon, the investigation moves swiftly from the smugglers’ trails of the Pyrenees to the cannabis clubs of Barcelona. And it’s there, in the dark medieval streets of the city’s Gothic Quarter, that someone finds a reason to silence her.
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Rachel Green is the pen name of a writer from the UK. Rachel has twice been longlisted for both the Bath Novel Award and the BPA First Novel Award, as well as being on the shortlist for the Capital Crime New Voices Award. Rachel lives in a tiny village in England, but travels frequently
to the south of France where the stories from the Madame Renard Investigates series are set.

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My thoughts: this was very enjoyable, I like Margot, and I liked Alia, I hope she appears in another book in this series. Investigating a strange cold case leads the two women into the odd lives of the Deveraux siblings, the creepy Pascal and his strange sister. Pascal likes to play perverse and disturbing games with people and immediately Margot has her suspicions of him. When Alia remembers seeing a man matching the remains of one of the victims, they’re set on a trail that will lead beyond the village’s borders and across the mountains into Barcelona.

Margot is an intelligent, resourceful investigator – for all that her late husband was the police officer, she has the right instincts for detective work. The remote villa and the tragic and disturbed family are ripe for investigating. Working with Alia, who really deserves a lot of the credit, means she has back up when things go wrong.

Set against the backdrop of a hot summer in the south of France, and the descriptions of all the delicious food Alia’s father, Didier, provides, gives an intense juxtaposition to the dark deeds and the sinister bunker where the remains were found. Twisted, gripping and intelligent crime writing.

*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 Lost Ones – Marnie Riches

The girl is sitting upright, her dark brown hair arranged over her shoulders and her blue, blue eyes staring into the distance. She looks almost peaceful. But her gaze is vacant, and her skin is cold…

When Detective Jackie Cooke is called to the murder scene, she is shocked by what she sees. Missing teenager Chloe Smedley has finally been found – her body left in a cold back yard, carefully posed with her bright blue eyes still open. Jackie lays a protective hand on the baby in her belly, and vows to find the brutal monster who stole Chloe’s future.

When Jackie breaks the news to Chloe’s heartbroken mother, she understands the woman’s cries only too well. Her own brother went missing as a child, the case never solved. Determined to get justice for Chloe and her family, Jackie sets to work, finding footage of the girl waving at someone the day she disappeared. Did Chloe know her killer?

But then a second body is found on the side of a busy motorway, lit up by passing cars. The only link with Chloe is the disturbing way the victim has been posed, and Jackie is convinced she is searching for a dangerous predator. Someone has been hunting missing and vulnerable people for decades, and only Jackie seems to see that they were never lost. They were taken.

Jackie’s boss refuses to believe a serial killer is on the loose and threatens to take her off the case. But then Jackie returns home to find a brightly coloured bracelet on her kitchen counter and her blood turns cold. It’s the same one her brother was wearing when he vanished. Could his disappearance be connected to the murders? Jackie will stop at nothing to catch her killer… unless he finds her first…

An absolutely gripping crime thriller that will keep you racing through the pages. Fans of Kendra Elliott, Rachel McLean and Val McDermid will love The Lost Ones.

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Marnie Riches grew up on a rough estate in north Manchester. Exchanging the spires of nearby Strangeways prison for those of Cambridge University, she gained a Masters in German & Dutch. She has been a punk, a trainee rock star, a pretend artist and professional fundraiser.

Her best-selling, award-winning George McKenzie crime thrillers were inspired by her own time spent in The Netherlands. Dubbed the Martina Cole of the North, she has also authored a series about Manchester’s notorious gangland as well as two books in a mini-series featuring quirky northern PI Bev Saunders.

Detective Jackson Cooke is Marnie’s latest heroine to root for, as she hunts down one of the most brutal killers the north west has ever seen at devastating personal cost.

When she isn’t writing gritty, twisty crime thrillers, Marnie also regularly appears on BBC Radio Manchester, commenting on social media trends and discussing the world of crime fiction. She is a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Salford University’s Doctoral School and a tutor for the Faber Novel Writing Course.

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My thoughts: this was really good, I’ve read some of the author’s previous books but this really was a compelling read. I really liked the character of Jackson ‘Jackie’ Cooke, pregnant, mother of twins, wife to a rather useless man, but determined and incredibly good at her job. Her own little brother Lucian (their dad’s an artist) was abducted as a boy and the case is still open. He had Down’s Syndrome, as does the first missing child in this case. The connection means that for Jackie, this is personal.

As more remains are found, and more mothers are informed that their missing children are dead, Jackie becomes even more dedicated to solving this. Despite her boss wanting her, at 8 months pregnant, behind a desk till maternity leave.

The ending and the perpetrator is something you won’t see coming. Jackie’s personal life is on its knees, and I really didn’t pick the murderer out, like I can sometimes do, it just seemed too cruel. Brilliantly done and totally gripping.

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