blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Concierge – Miranda Rijks

They hired an assistant to help them. But she has other plans.

High-flying duo Goldie and Braun Delucci run a major film production company. But recently their gilded lives were touched by tragedy when one of their leading actors, Ally, died in a car crash.

What the Deluccis don’t realise is that their newly hired private assistant is actually Ally’s sister. Simone is convinced Ally’s death was suspicious and she is determined to find out what happened on that terrible night.

Simone’s new job puts her at the heart of a rich, dysfunctional family. As she digs for the truth about Ally’s death, she realises someone is watching her. And they want her gone.

That just makes Simone more determined to discover whatever terrible secret the Deluccis are hiding. But she doesn’t understand she is about to uncover something so dark, so shocking that her own life may never be the same again.

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Miranda Rijks is a writer of psychological thrillers and suspense novels. She has an eclectic background ranging from law to running a garden centre. She’s been writing all of her life and has a Masters in writing. A couple of years ago she decided to ditch the business plans and press releases and now she’s living the dream, writing suspense novels full time. She lives in Sussex, England with her Dutch husband, musician daughter and black Labrador.

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My thoughts: this was a clever premise and paid off nicely. Simone goes undercover with her sister’s former employers to find out what really happened to her and gets caught up in a messed up family and a terrible situation.

No one is particularly honest about things, apart from maybe the children, though not teenager Rose, who’s hiding all sorts of nasty little secrets. But her dad isn’t very truthful either and his secrets put people in harm’s way.

Simone finds that her sister, far from the drug addicted car thief the media are spinning her as, was, as expected, an innocent caught up in something bigger than her and with someone who can’t be trusted.

I felt for Simone but she took things incredibly far, pretending to be someone else and her niece almost paid the price. Honesty tends to be the better policy. Luckily Goldie was a really nice person and not to blame and able to forgive the deception, of Simone at least.

*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: Case Files – Rachel Amphlett

Discover twelve dark and twisted mysteries from USA Today bestselling author Rachel Amphlett.

This page-turning collection features The Man Cave in which Darren regains consciousness in a dank basement where escape turns out to be the least of his worries; in All Night Long Zoe soon wishes she wasn’t working the late shift; and in Nowhere to Run a rookie detective encounters her first serial killer… but will she survive?

My thoughts: this was a really enjoyable collection of short crime stories. Some were very brief and others felt like the beginning of a novel. All were clever and a couple made me laugh out loud. If you like crime fiction and short stories, you could do a lot worse than starting with these.

*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: Local Girl Missing – J.A. Baker

Missing without trace…
When local woman Deborah goes missing, her colleagues Adrian, Yvonne and Merriel are all left in shock. Gossip around the office begins to swirl – what could have happened to Deborah? Is she dead or alive? And who could be responsible for her disappearance?
Everyone is terrified that they could be next…except the one person who has all the answers. The last person people expect.
Because Deborah is being held captive by a monster, a psychopath. But not a stranger… it’s someone she knows all too well…
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J. A. Baker is a successful psychological thriller writer of numerous books, previously published by Bloodhound. Born and brought up in Middlesbrough, she still lives in the North East, which inspires
the settings for her books. Her first title for Boldwood will be published in December 2022.

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My thoughts: I enjoyed this, I liked the switching between different characters so you see what they think about each other and recent events. You don’t know who to trust because they all seem to be hiding something. Even Deborah, who ask the kidnapped victim, you’d think would be the most honest.

I had no idea who the kidnapper was. There were too many suspects, too many messed up families. So it was a huge surprise and yet there were definitely questions at the end that still needed answers.

*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 Secrets of Rochester Place – Iris Costello

Spring 1937: Teresa, a young Basque girl, is evacuated to London in the wake of the Guernica bombing. She thinks she has reached safety in the lofty halls of Rochester Place and the soothing arms of Mary Davidson, but trouble seeks her out wherever she goes…

Autumn 2020: Corrine, an emergency services operator, receives a call from a distressed woman called Mary. But when the ambulance arrives at Rochester Place – the address the woman gave them – she is nowhere to be found. No matter how hard she tries to forget, memories of Mary’s raw fear haunt Corinne and secrets, long-hidden in Corinne’s family tree, begin to surface.

Is Mary calling from beyond the grave? And what actually happened at Rochester Place all those years ago?

Set between the dusty halls of Rochester Place and the bustling streets of modern-day Tooting, this emotive, intricately layered mystery tells the spellbinding story of two people, separated by time, yet mysteriously connected through an enchanting Georgian house and the secrets within its walls. The perfect escapist read for fans of Kate Morton, Eve Chase and Lulu Taylor.

My thoughts: inspired by the author’s family, this is a moving and clever timeslip book, set between now and events in the Spanish Civil War and Second World War.

Sadly Spain’s horrific 1930s War is not taught much here, and what little I know I’ve learnt as an adult. But it was the precursor to the horrendous events of WW2, especially the massacre of Guernica. Which is where little Theresa is fleeing from.

Sent to safety in England by her elder sister, Theresa travels by sea with other refugee children. Offered a home by the kind and intriguing Mary, an Irish woman who speaks Basque and lives with her English husband in Rochester Place, she finds herself in a world unlike that she’s known. But Mary has secrets and a past too.

How these two are connected to Corinne, who works as an emergency services call handler, while her wife and sister-in-law run a family restaurant, selling the delicious food their mum used to make. After a strange phone call shakes her, Corinne and her historian uncle Robin look into Rochester Place and its occupants. Then she’s called to Ireland, where her grandmother is ill. And secrets are about to be revealed.

Moving and rather lovely, with several love stories mixed into the history, this is a heartwarming tale of found family, survival 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.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: A Deadly Covenant – Michael Stanley

While building a pipeline near the Okavango Delta, a contractor unearths the remains of a long-dead Bushman. Rookie Detective David ‘Kubu’ Bengu of Botswana CID and Scottish pathologist, Ian MacGregor, are sent to investigate, and MacGregor discovers the skeletons of eight more men.

Shortly after the gruesome discoveries, the elder of a nearby village is murdered in his home. The local police are convinced it was a robbery, but Kubu isn’t so sure … and neither is the strange woman who claims that an angry river spirit caused the elder’s death.

As accusations of corruption are levelled and international outrage builds over the massacre of the Bushman families, Kubu and his colleagues uncover a deadly covenant, and begin to fear that their own lives may be in mortal danger…

Michael Stanley is the writing team of South African authors Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. On a flying trip to Botswana, they watched a pack of hyenas hunt, kill and devour a wildebeest, eating both flesh and bones. That gave them the premise for their first mystery, A Carrion Death, which introduced Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu of the Botswana CID. It was a finalist for five awards, including the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger. The third in the series, Death of the Mantis, won the Barry Award for Best Paperback Original mystery and was a finalist for an Edgar award. Deadly Harvest was a finalist for an International Thriller Writers’ award. A Death in the Family and Dying to Live are the latest in the Detective Kubu series, published by Orenda Books. A prequel to the Detective Kubu series, Facets of Death, was published in 2021 and A Deadly Covenant follows Kubu’s second case.

My thoughts: Detective Kubu returns in a case of murder, secrets and promises. Sent out to a remote village to investigate human remains found while digging for new water pipes, Kubu encounters people who won’t speak up, closing ranks against the outsiders. As more bones are found and pathologist Dr McGregor thinks they’re the massacred remains of a group of Bushmen, discriminated against widely, and some may be children, Kubu becomes more determined to find the truth. Then new murders occur.

As Assistant Commissioner Mabuku comes out to help with this new spate of crime, the local police think it’s a newcomer – a Bushman who says he’s come at the behest of his ancestors, because of the bodies they’ve found.

Digging into local history, rumours and friendships, the team find a terrible pact made between a group of friends years before. Could this hold the answers?

Gripping, trawling through the worst things humans can do, but with a lightness of touch, finding moments of humour, and with such intriguing characters. I loved the last Kubu I read and this was also very good. Enjoyable and thought provoking.

*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: Alone With You in the Ether – Olivie Blake

Chicago, sometime. Two people meet in the Art Institute, in the armoury section, quite by chance. Prior to their encounter, he is a doctoral student who manages his destructive thoughts with compulsive calculations about time travel; she is a bipolar counterfeit artist undergoing court-ordered psychotherapy. After their meeting, those things do not change.

Everything else, however, is slightly different.

Both obsessive, eccentric personalities, Aldo Damiani and Charlotte Regan struggle to be without each other from the moment they meet. The truth – that he is a clinically depressed, anti-social theoretician and she is a manipulative liar with a history of self-sabotage – means the deeper they fall in love, the more troubling their reliance on each other becomes.

Alone with you in the Ether, is a glimpse into the nature of love, what it means to be unwell, and how to face the fractures of yourself and still love as if you’re not broken.

My thoughts: as someone living with mental illness, I do understand Regan’s ambivalence towards medication – I take mine because without it I can’t realistically function but I do wonder what parts of me it silences. For Regan it’s her art, she can’t draw or paint while medicated.

For Aldo perhaps it’s his brilliance with numbers, she calls him a genius. Constantly working on complex calculations in his head, contemplating hexagons and bees. The number six repeats throughout the book. The six conversations Regan agrees to have with him.

This isn’t an easy to read, simple love story. It’s complex and messy, much like life. Similarly to the author’s Atlas books there is a fascination with time travel – Aldo is trying to solve it with maths, the Atlas scholars with magic.

Regan and Aldo are interesting figures, trying to solve their place in the world, to understand themselves as well as the bigger questions in the universe – love being one of them.

*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 Weekend Alone – Jacqueline Grima

Bella has the perfect life with her husband Jack and their two children – until the ex who stalked her years ago is released from prison.

A tragic past that haunts her
Now Bella is convinced he’s back to hurt her, and sees him everywhere – but no one else can see that anything is wrong.

One last chance to put it behind her
With her family away for the weekend, Bella determines to leave the past in the past – but she’s about to discover the danger is closer to home than she ever imagined…

My thoughts: traumatised and haunted by a terrible experience with a stalker, Bella is reliving it and seeing him everywhere after he’s released from prison. Her husband Jack is worried about her, more so when she insists on spending the weekend alone while the kids are away.

But all is not as it seems, and this time the monster terrorising Bella is a lot closer to home. I was genuinely thrown when their identity was revealed, as it chucks the preceding narrative up in the air and you have to reevaluate everything that’s gone before.

I was really glad that Bella had a true friend in Jazz, someone who had her back even when Bella didn’t realise it. And that her stalker got to redeem himself along the way. Clever and twisted, this stays with you.

*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 Missing Wife – Kerry Barrett

1933. Hannah Snow is fleeing her unhappy marriage when she finds herself in a small hotel on the banks of Loch Ness. But when a monster is spotted in the depths of the waters, the press descends – and Hannah finds her hiding place is discovered. Someone has been looking for Hannah, and when they find her events will take a devastating turn…

Present day. True crime podcaster Scarlett finds herself intrigued by the mystery of Hannah Snow, wife of a promising government minister who disappeared in 1933 – just months before her husband also went missing, presumed dead. As Scarlett works to uncover the truth, she discovers a tragic family secret, and a story as murky as the depths of the loch where Hannah and her husband were last seen…

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this, Hannah flees her unfortunate marriage for a new life in Scotland on the banks of the Loch Ness, just as monster fever sweeps the land. Can she stay hidden or will someone from her past show up?

True crime podcaster Scarlett is on Hannah’s trail years later. Did she and MP husband Laurie end up in the Loch or did they manage to disappear to new lives back in the 1930s, before the internet and social media would make that impossible?

As Scarlett digs through the archives and talks to locals, falling for a monster hunter and fellow podder along the way, she learns not just some secrets from the past but ones from the present that might make her horrible ex Charlie finally go away.

Fun and cheering, I loved Hannah, a very modern woman who wants to be a journalist and not a trophy wife and certainly not in a sham marriage. Her adventures in Scotland lead to a whole new life and I cheered her, and Scarlett, who also needed a new start, on.

*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: Secrets at Mermaid Cove – Kaitlyn Duncan

Escape to Mermaid Cove, where pirates once roamed in underground coves and smugglers hid their treasure troves…

Like everyone raised in the magical seaside town of Mermaid Cove, the ocean was a huge part of Rose Barros’ life. She lived to the rhythm of the tides until a near-death experience changed her love for the water to a soul-deep terror, driving a wedge between herself and her sister, Reen.

Now, the only thing threatening to drown Rose is a mountain of bills and her sense of duty towards her ageing mother, Pearl. She needs her sister more than ever, but rebellious Reen has skipped town and shows no interest in returning.

When Pearl suddenly takes a turn for the worse, the sisters are forced to reunite. But they discover a heart-stopping secret about how their mother first came to live in the small town. Will Reen run from Mermaid Cove for good? Or will facing up to their family history allow them to leave the past behind and finally put down roots in the place that once captured their hearts?

My thoughts: what started as a romance novel with local girl Rose and newcomer cop Shane, with a mystery they need to solve, takes a rather odd turn into fantasy territory. I should have guessed at all the references to Splash (the 90s movie where Darryl Hannah played a mermaid who falls in love with Tom Hanks). Rose and Reen’s mum Pearl has dementia and is dying. But there’s something she needs to tell them.

As the sisters reconnect and read their mother’s diary, they learn her surprising secret, and why they never met any of her family, and they realise why their connection to the ocean is so strong.

Split into 3 sections, narrated by Rose, then Reen and finally Pearl, the story of the women in their family builds and shifts focus creating a family saga that seems unlikely in a small New England town.

*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: Dashboard Elvis is Dead – David F. Ross

Renowned photo-journalist Jude Montgomery arrives in Glasgow in 2014, in the wake of the failed Scottish independence referendum, and it’s clear that she’s searching for someone.

Is it Anna Mason, who will go on to lead the country as First Minister? Jamie Hewitt, guitarist from eighties one-hit wonders The Hyptones? Or is it Rabbit – Jude’s estranged foster sister, now a world-famous artist?

Three apparently unconnected people, who share a devastating secret, whose lives were forever changed by one traumatic night in Phoenix, forty years earlier…

Taking us back to a school shooting in her Texas hometown, and a 1980s road trip across the American West – to San Francisco and on to New York – Jude’s search ends in Glasgow, and a final, shocking event that only one person can fully explain…

David F. Ross was born in Glasgow in 1964 and has lived in Kilmarnock for over 30 years. He is a graduate of the Mackintosh School of Architecture at Glasgow School of Art, an architect by day, and a hilarious social-media commentator, author and enabler by night. His debut novel The Last Days of Disco was shortlisted for the Authors Club Best First Novel Award, and optioned for the stage by the Scottish National Theatre. All five of his novels have achieved notable critical acclaim and There’s Only One Danny Garvey, published in 2021 by Orenda Books, was shortlisted for the prestigious Saltire Society Prize for Scottish Fiction Book of the Year. David lives in Ayrshire.

My thoughts: this is a blackly comic tale of roads converging, life changing events and secrets. Jude’s journey to Glasgow is a lifetime in the making in many ways, she’s not had it easy, and has some things to settle. But before that we need to go on tour with The Hyptones, and learn a bit more about Jude’s life and the moments that changed it.

A chance encounter at a gig going very wrong sends Jude on a lifelong mission of sorts, as she becomes a talented photojournalist in New York, haunted always by the moment Jamie Hewitt, guitarist of The Hyptones possibly saved her life, and by their one hit record.

That final trip to Scotland, partly to trace her late Glaswegian father, but mostly to find out what happened to the band and more specifically Jamie, is very powerful and moving in many ways. Fame dealt the members a pretty bad hand, well and Anna Mason – soon to be First Minister (replacing Nicola Sturgeon in the plot), daughter of a very dodgy man and the woman holding most of The Hyptones hostage financially.

But Jude isn’t easily swayed, she tracks down the members, a journalist called David F. Ross (hmmm) who wrote a staggeringly bleak article that has Madonna’s lawyers all over him, and AnnaFuckingBelle Mason too. But will she make it to lunch with her long separated foster sister, artist Rabbit? Or will the madness and sadness of The Hyptones get her too?

It’s gripping and unputdownable and dark and rather marvellous, from Texas to San Francisco, New York to Glasgow. One heck of a ride and with Dashboard Elvis there for it all.

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