blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Good Shepherd and the Last Perfect – Susan Kaberry

In 14th Century Languedoc, after a century of persecution drove the Believers underground, a revival of the Cathar heresy gains a foothold in the mountain villages of the County of Foix. As it sweeps around the region, two men leave their homes and families and become embroiled in the forbidden faith.

Based on Inquisition records archived for nearly 700 years in the Vatican, this is a fictionalised account of the epic, true story of these two men, Pierre Maury (Pedro, the shepherd) and Guillaume Belibaste (Guy), who was fated to become the last of the Cathar Holy Men (Perfects).

As the Inquisition launch a brutal campaign against them, the men must again leave their loved ones and seek safety across the border in Aragon. As many Perfects are burned alive and friends and family are arrested, can Guy and Pedro stay safe? And can their faith and their friendship survive as the Inquisition become closer and ever more brutal?

Susan Kaberry lives in Manchester with her husband and two miniature dachshunds. She began writing fiction when she retired after working in the NHS for most of her life. Her first Cathar novel was The Chatelaine of Montaillou, also based on Jacques Fournier’s records. She has also written a memoir Britannia Street under her maiden name of Beth Cox.

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My thoughts: based on records by Bishop Jacques Fournier, about the interrogation and torture of Pedro Maury and Guy Belibaste, Cathars and Good Men or Perfects, this is the story of how two ordinary men became important figures in what was called The Heresy, for which thousands of people were killed in the Middle Ages.

Pedro is a shepherd, working for his wealthier cousin Raymond when he is inducted into the secret faith of the Cathars, while Guy was raised in the beliefs. The religion was forced underground following the massacre at Beziers and incarceration at Carcassonne of many more. But Good Men or Perfects, as the leaders were called, still travelled to speak to believers, and Pedro and Guy become the last two. Their lives must have been shrouded in secrecy and fear.

The book tells of their attempts to live quietly and not attract the attention of the Catholic Church, while preaching to their flock and carrying out the duties of their office. Sadly they are betrayed by a man they thought was trustworthy and subjected to the offices of the Inquisition.

Based on the testimony of Pedro (Guy’s unfortunately has been lost) recorded by Fournier, this story about faith and strength, even to the cruellest of ends – Pedro is imprisoned, Guy burnt at the stake as a heretic, is moving and tragic.

*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: River of Ashes – Alexandra Weis & Lucas Astor

ALONG THE BANKS OF THE BOGUE FALAYA RIVER, sits the abandoned St. Francis Seminary. Beneath a canopy of oaks, blocked from prying eyes, the teens of St. Benedict High gather here on Fridays. The rest of the week belongs to school and family—but weekends belong to the river.

And the river belongs to Beau Devereaux.

The only child of a powerful family, Beau can do no wrong. Star quarterback. Handsome. Charming. The “prince” of St. Benedict is the ultimate catch.

He is also a psychopath.

A dirty family secret buried for years, Beau’s evil grows unchecked. In the shadows of the haunted abbey, he commits unspeakable acts on his victims and ensures their silence with threats and intimidation. Senior year, Beau sets his sights on his girlfriend’s headstrong twin sister, Leslie, who hates him. Everything he wants but cannot have, she will be his ultimate prize.

As the victim toll mounts, it becomes clear that someone must stop Beau Devereaux.

And that someone will pay with their life.

My thoughts: Beau is a cruel and violent young man, he sees nothing wrong in what he does to young women or even in how he treats his mother and friends.

But the terrible things he does are catching up with him as his victims start to talk to one another and even his girlfriend, blind to his monstrous nature, turns against him. He plans to torture and rape her twin sister, but the avenging women have their own plans for him.

Dark and sometimes hard to read, discomforting and rage inducing. I couldn’t believe no one had tried to stop him before. Only once Beau started to lose the tightly controlled persona he let others see, did changes start to happen. His comeuppance came at a terrible price but at least he was finally stopped.

*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 Long Way From Home – Brian W. Caves

A sleepy town in 1960s South Georgia, where to some residents, segregation is more important than catching a killer. 

An ex-homicide detective from Chicago called to honour an old promise. 

With a rising body count and a community guarding their secrets more fiercely than their children, asking questions could prove deadly for the outsider…

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I started out as an engineer, then an estate agent, followed by senior management roles in cable TV and telecoms. Spent a few years as a management consultant and now work in the language translation industry.

I have played music all my life. Classically trained on the clarinet from the age of eight until fourteen when my world took a quantum leap forward after hearing Jimi Hendrix and Voodoo Child on the radio. I thought, wow, I gotta do that. I dumped the clarinet and I picked up the guitar and have never put it down. I have played alongside topflight musicians, both live and in studios.

From a young age I read books like Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, Black Beauty, Swallows and Amazons, then The Famous Five, Billy Bunter, Jennings and Derbyshire, Biggles, and Tarzan. Agatha Christie had a major impact as did Georges Simenon. I penned short stories at school – mostly adventure, but it wasn’t until I became hooked on American Crime Noir that my urge to write came crashing to the forefront of my mind. Reading Hammett, Chandler, Jim Thompson, Macdonald, and the master, James M. Cain had the same effect on my potential writing career as Hendrix had for my music.

Currently, having been further influenced by the greats of Southern literature, I write crime stories based in the Deep South as well as UK based dark noir crime set in the county of Northamptonshire where I reside. Throw into the pot crime and horror short stories and novellas and you’ll have some idea of what goes on in my head.

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My thoughts: this is a tale of cruel men doing dark deeds and getting away with it because of who they are and the colour of their skin. Until a PI from Chicago comes to town and starts looking for a missing girl.

Tom is not afraid of the Klan, of the townsfolk and the men who run things. He’s determined to find out what happened to Alice, and when he realises there’s a pattern of disappearances over the years, those other victims too. The Sheriff is too eager to punish a young black man for the crimes but Tom smells several rats, white ones.

Violence simmers under the surface in segregated Georgia and Tom’s refusal to toe the line brings him close to danger too often but his determination to see justice done properly wins over.

*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: Unjust Bias – Liz Mistry

A murdered boy disowned by his family.
A teen terrified his past will catch up with him.
A girl with nowhere to go.
Men with rage so visceral they will do anything.
With the unsolved murder of a homeless boy still preying on his mind, DI Gus McGuire is confronted with a similar murder, a missing teen and no clues.
Does the answer lie with an illegal dark web site where ‘slaves’ are auctioned off? Or with an online forum for teens?
How can Gus keep people safe when unjust bias rears its head and being different could cost you your life…?

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Born in Scotland, Made in Bradford sums up Liz Mistry’s life. Over thirty years ago she moved from a small village in West Lothian to Yorkshire to get her teaching degree. Once here, Liz fell in love with
three things; curries, the rich cultural diversity of the city … and her Indian husband (not necessarily in this order). Now thirty years, three children, two cats and a huge extended family later, Liz uses
her experiences of living and working in the inner city to flavour her writing. Her gritty crime fiction police procedural novels set in Bradford embrace the city she describes as ‘Warm, Rich and Fearless’
whilst exploring the darkness that lurks beneath.
Struggling with severe clinical depression and anxiety for a large number of years, Liz often includes mental health themes in her writing. She credits the MA in Creative Writing she took at Leeds Trinity
University with helping her find a way of using her writing to navigate her ongoing mental health struggles. Being a debut novelist in her fifties was something Liz had only dreamed of and she counts
herself lucky, whilst pinching herself regularly to make sure it’s all real. One of the nicest things about being a published author is chatting with and responding to readers’ feedback and Liz regularly does events at local libraries, universities, literature festivals and open mics. She also
teaches creative writing too. Liz has completed a PhD in Creative Writing on Diverse voices in crime fiction.
In her spare time, Liz loves pub quizzes (although she admits to being rubbish at them), dancing (she does a mean jig to Proud Mary – her opinion, not ratified by her family), visiting the varied Yorkshire
landscape, with Robin Hoods Bay being one of her favourite coastal destinations, listening to music, reading and blogging about all things crime fiction on her blog, The Crime Warp.
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My thoughts: dark deeds online and in person for DI Gus McGuire and his team in this next installment. A dark web site is hosting a “slave” auction, queer teenagers are ending up dead and no one is talking.

While trying to find out what has been happening at a local church, which seems welcoming and accepting on the surface, but gay and trans people linked to it have been killed. There’s also the need to protect a young girl from online predators and her gangster father.

Stretched thin by the two cases, and worrying about his young son, Gus is running out of time and trying to remain focused. His team have his back, as he has theirs as they unravel the identity of a killer.

Dark, shocking and utterly gripping. Another slice of Northern noir.

*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 Shimmer on the Water – Marina McCarron

When you’re lost sometimes the only way to look forward is to look back…
Three women. Two generations apart. One secret they share.
Maine, 1997. As the people of Fort Meadow Beach celebrate the Fourth of July, four-year- old Daisy Wright disappears and is never seen again.
Maine, 2022. Fired from her job and heart-broken, Peyton Winchester moves back home for the summer. Bored and aimless, she finds a renewed sense of purpose when going through her old diaries she is reminded of her dream of becoming a journalist. Returning to life in her home town brings back all kind of memories – including Daisy’s disappearance when she was a young girl herself.
As Peyton begins to search for answers about Daisy’s disappearance, she finds that they might be closer to home than she thinks – and their lives become intertwined with irreversible consequences.

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Marina McCarron was born in eastern Canada and studied in Ottawa and Vancouver before moving to England. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Publishing degree. She has worked as a reporter, a freelance writer, a columnist and a manuscript evaluator. She loves reading and travelling and has been to six of the seven continents. She gets her ideas
for stories from strolling through new places and daydreaming. Her debut novel, The Time Between Us, came to her as she stood at Pointe du Hoc on a windy June day and asked the magical question, what if…?
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My thoughts: I really enjoyed this, supposedly Peyton is looking into the disappearance of little Daisy but really the mystery she’s most interested in is that of her mother, Lydia. Cold and remote, critical and clearly unhappy, she’s someone whose entire past is an intentional blank. When Peyton finds an old Christmas card, it starts her off trying to find out what happened to make her mother the way she is.

Intertwined with Peyton’s complicated summer of rediscovery is the story of Eualla, a young girl in rural Tennessee decades before, who she is and her life is a bit of a mystery to the reader but it does all make sense.

A clever, moving, complex story of mothers and daughters, of generational trauma and love.

*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: So Happy For You – Celia Laskey

A wedding weekend spirals out of control in this bold, electrifying, hilarious novel about the complexities of female friendship

Robin and Ellie have been best friends since childhood. When Robin came out, Ellie was there for her. When Ellie’s father died, Robin had her back. But when Ellie asks Robin to be her maid of honor, she is reluctant. A queer academic, Robin is dubious of the elaborate wedding rituals now sweeping the nation, which go far beyond champagne toasts and a bouquet toss. But loyalty wins out, and Robin accepts.

Yet, as the wedding weekend approaches, a series of ominous occurrences lead Robin to second-guess her decision. It seems that everyone in the bridal party is out to get her. Perhaps even Ellie herself.

Manically entertaining, viciously funny and eerily campy, So Happy for You is the ultimate send-up to our collective obsession with the wedding industrial complex and a riveting, unexpectedly poignant depiction of friendship in all its messy glory.

My thoughts: this is very funny and a bit silly but there’s a serious side to it as well. Set in a not-so-distant future where there’s an even more insane focus on marriage than there is now – the dating app telling women when they’re running out of time to reproduce was a particularly hellish detail, Robin and her best friend Ellie are on a collision course.

Robin hates weddings, is writing a sociology thesis on why the wedding industrial complex is so toxic and never wants to get married (thankfully her partner, Aimee, agrees) but Ellie cannot wait to be Mrs Ellie Ellison (gag).

Ellie wants Robin to be her Maid of Honour. Why on earth she asks her anti-wedding lesbian high school BFF and not one of her much more likely to agree other friends is beyond me. I didn’t have bridesmaids, and for my hen night I went out for dinner and cocktails with some friends (one of whom was a man) and my mum. I do not get the whole OTT wedding thing at all.

I don’t think Robin’s perfect though, she could just go along with some of Ellie’s requests (not the nuts ones though – the trust falls, the crazy wedding “charms”, some of the other stunts she pulls) but maybe being a little more enthusiastic for her friend might have meant it didn’t have to go quite so batshit over the wedding weekend.

Or not, I mean, some of it was hilarious, some just disturbing. Poor Ellie, I don’t actually think she’s crazy, but society has certainly made her act like she is. The huge pressure to get married, have the 2.4 children, dog and picket fence etc is huge and ugly and deeply unnecessary.

A really thought provoking and intelligent read with some really outrageous moments.

*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: Quarter to Midnight – Karen Rose

Quarter to Midnight is the first thrilling novel in a brand new series by Sunday Times bestselling author Karen Rose, set in New Orleans.

Rocky Hebert walks into his death at quarter to midnight one New Orleans night.

His son Gabe cannot accept the official verdict of suicide and enlists the help of the Burke Broussard Private Investigation Agency to discover the real cause of death.

PI Molly Sutton knows what it’s like to lose a father in tragic circumstances and will go to any lengths to crack the investigation, as she tries to fight off her growing feelings for Gabe.

They soon realise Rocky was working on an investigation of his own; one that threatened to expose the deep corruption going all the way to the top of the police department. And that the key to the puzzle lies with a young witness to a murder that happened years earlier: Xavier Morrow.

Just what did Rocky know? And who might have shut him up?

As they get closer and closer to the truth, they realise that the killer is not going to stop at Rocky. And that Xavier is in very real danger. Someone will go to any lengths to protect what he witnessed that night coming out…

Karen Rose was introduced to suspense and horror at the tender age of eight when she accidentally read Poe’s The Pit and The Pendulum and was afraid to go to sleep for years. She now enjoys writing books that make other people afraid to go to sleep.

Karen lives in Florida with her family, their cat, Bella, and two dogs, Loki and Freya. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, and her new hobby -knitting.

My thoughts: I knew this was going to be good, it’s Karen Rose after all, but this was so good, so compelling. I couldn’t put it down and ended up reading the whole book in one go – and it’s not a small book.

There’s basically two investigations. The one into Rocky’s death and then into the murder case he was looking into when he was killed. They tie together nicely, as it becomes clear whoever is targeting Gabe and Xavier is responsible for the murder during Katrina.

The PI team headed by Burke, with Molly assigned to Gabe, are clever and know how to get answers, aided by Xavier and his family, I loved Willa Mae. As they dig deeper into the case, they uncover corruption in the NOPD and ADA’s office that has been hiding a killer in plain sight.

The case is so compelling, and Gabe and Molly’s romance is pretty hot too. As the start of a new series, set in New Orleans, this is a fantastic introduction to the team and to the city. I cannot wait for more.

*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: Love & Other Human Errors – Bethany Clift

A book synopsis is fundamentally ridiculous. How can I possibly convey, in only 100 words, the events of the past year and their impact on my perfectly ordered existence?

It is insufficient space to accurately detail how I was blackmailed into demonstrating my flawless algorithm to find a soulmate, despite having no desire for one.

In my former life I avoided trivial human connections. I was alone, accomplished and brilliant.

Unfortunately, that solitary and driven woman no longer exists.

My name is Indiana Dylan and this is the extraordinary account of how I fell in love.

There: 100 words exactly.

My thoughts: I loved this funny, sweet book, I loved Indi and Jack and Lina and Connie and Bruce and Frank and Lina’s family and Peggy and Spider and of course Alan. I did not love Emily. She was a bitch.

Indiana is basically a genius, she’s designed an algorithm that can find anyone’s soulmate. And now she wants to sell it to JaneDoe, a tech company, so she can move on to her next project. Only people don’t do what you want. Cameron, the mean owner and CEO of JaneDoe forces Indi to be a human guinea pig and find her soulmate.

Her new friends Lina and Jack want to help her, Peggy, her brilliant assistant, wants to look after her, Frank and Alan who are basically her neighbours want to help her and look after her. She wants to be left alone.

I loved Indi’s determination, her resilience and her sadness, her life hasn’t been easy and she’s tried to bury it under her tech genius. But she’s lonely. And people need people. Once she starts to let people in, she changes and realises she doesn’t have to be alone anymore.

This was a lovely book, even the sad bits.

Also I’d like Mr & Mrs B to come and cook my Christmas Dinner this year 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.

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Blog Tour: Blitz Bullion Busters – Daryl Joyce

During the Blitz in World War II, £5 million pounds in gold bullion was loaded onto a secret, secure train in London.

When the train arrived at its destination the gold had vanished.

Eighty years later, three teenagers stumble across the mystery and set out to find the truth. What starts as an enjoyable search soon turns into a mysterious, dangerous and thrilling hunt under and through the streets of London, and a fight for their lives.

Daryl Joyce was born in Andover, Hampshire and brought up in Farnborough, also in Hampshire. He worked in IT for over twenty years, mostly in London, before deciding to do something more worthwhile than switching it off and on, and so become a primary school teacher.

Somewhere before being in school at 7am and after the end of a long day teaching hordes of young people, Blitz Bullion Busters was written. Daryl has long had a fascination with the London Underground and the myriad of stories surrounding it. Working with children has also given him valuable experience of what makes a story exciting and worthwhile.

When he is not writing, Daryl spends most of his time reading about hidden places underground and watching Star Trek. He now lives in Surrey, not far from Gatwick Airport with his wife and two pampered cats. This is his first book.

My thoughts: along with his best friend Jack and older stepsister Fazia, Wade is on the hunt for missing gold. Meant to be shipped to a secret location, it vanished in the tunnel somewhere between Bank and London Bridge during the Blitz. Can three smart teenagers manage to do what no one else has done and find the gold or will the sinister forces chasing them stop the search?

A short book but one that packs a lot in, this was a fun adventure story set in London’s Square Mile around Bank underground station. I knew all of the locations from when I worked just round the corner and that was fun, a different perspective on places thousands of people pass every day.

The characters are clever and work well together, resourceful and able to dodge the many people seemingly after them. Thank goodness for Ms Corner of the secret service though, helping them out so they don’t get grounded for their adventures.

*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: Small Angels – Lauren Owen

When Chloe turns the key to Small Angels, the church nestled at the edge of Mockbeggar Woods where she is to be married, she is braced for cobwebs and dust.What she doesn’t expect are the villagers’ concerned faces, her fiancé’s remoteness, or the nagging voice in her head that whispers to her of fears she didn’t even know she had.

Something in the woods is beginning to stir, to creep closer to the sleeping houses. Something that should have been banished long ago.

Whatever it is, it’s getting stronger, and pretending it’s not there won’t keep the wedding, or the village – or Chloe – safe.

My thoughts: woods have always been full of stories, magic and monsters. They have a pull on us and our imaginations. Mockbegger is the same here. The church of Saint Michael and All Angels – Small Angels, stands on its edges, not used by the villagers but only by the Gonnes. When Chloe hires it for her wedding she stirs up one of the things living deep in the woods.

A story of brothers and a death and a vengeful spirit, a story of sisters and secrets and a terrible night, a story of love and fear and finally setting the past free.

Beautiful, Gothic fiction, weaving a fairytale like spell over the people of the village, over Chloe and over the reader.

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