Thursday, 29 November 2018

The Cold Years by Joel Hames

Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Cold Years by Joel Hames. This is the third Sam Williams book, and having loved the first two I was keen to get into this one. Huge thanks to Tracy Fenton for inviting me to take part in the tour and to Joel for my review copy.

The Blurb:

When so many haven’t survived, just being alive can feel like a crime.

Everyone needs to be heard: if there’s one thing Sam Williams has learned it’s that. Which is why he finds himself defending Richard Fothergill against accusations that date back decades.

But Sam’s real problems are closer to home. His nemesis, Trawden, is finally dead, but so are those he once called friends. The people he used to count on, the ones who aren’t in the ground, aren’t what they once were, either. DI Martins is on his back again, and she’s got company. And Sam’s girlfriend Claire might be recovering from her breakdown, but she’s not telling him everything.

Life would be so much easier if Sam knew the answers. Instead, all he’s got are questions.

Who is following him, and what do they want?

What did Fothergill really do to the children he taught?

And where was Claire the day Edward Trawden was killed?

Everyone has a secret to hide, but some secrets are too close to home.

The Cold Years was published by Mainsail Books on 26th November 2018. You can purchase it from Amazon UK and US.

My Review:

Oh, I'm so pleased to see Sam again! I fall a little bit more in love with him with every outing!

This is the third book in the Sam Williams series, and follows directly on from No One Will Hear (see my review here). However, if you haven't read that, don't be put off from reading this. Enough background is given for it to work fine as a standalone. And at the beginning, Joel has also provided a link to a brief synopsis of the first two books if you need a refresher. But if you plan to read all three, and you should because they are great, I strongly suggest you do so in order - Dead North (review here), No One Will Hear, then this one.

So, Sam is still down on his luck, with just one unreliable client, when he catches a new case. It's not one he's really sure he wants - to defend an elderly man against an accusation of decades old paedophilia - but he can't afford to turn it down. And once he meets Richard Fothergill he finds he believes in him. Sam is tenacious and determined and his enquiries take him down some unusual paths.

But the case isn't the main story here. Sam's girlfriend Claire is behaving oddly. They've both been through traumas recently, and are both still recovering, each in their own way. But Sam grows suspicious of Claire. What is she up to? Can he trust her?

I love the way Joel writes - he has a very easy manner, and the characters feel like old friends - the nice ones anyway! I find myself caring about them. I was pleased to see Roarke back, although he's not the same as he was. But he's so well written, as are all of the characters.

There are two different stories winding their way through the book, but it's more of a tale about trust or, rather, a lack of trust. And about secrets, and how dangerous they can be. It's intelligent, brilliantly written,  with no words wasted. I loved it, and hope this isn't the last we hear about Sam Williams! Are you listening, Joel Hames?!

The Author:

Joel Hames lives in rural Lancashire, England, with his wife and two daughters, where he works hard at looking serious and pretending to be a proper novelist.

After a varied career in London which involved City law firms, a picture frame warehouse, an investment bank and a number of market stalls (he has been known to cry out "Belgian chocolates going cheap over 'ere" in his sleep), Joel relocated from the Big Smoke to be his own boss. As a result, he now writes what he wants, when he wants to (which by coincidence is when the rest of the family choose to let him).

Joel's first novel, Bankers Town, was published in 2014, and The Art of Staying Dead followed in 2015. The novellas Brexecution (written and published in the space of ten days following the UK's Brexit referendum, with half of the profits going to charity) and Victims were published in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Dead North, the first book in the Sam Williams series, was published in March of this year.

Joel's website can be found here, where you can find out more about the writer and the books, and sign up to his email newsletter. If you want to know what Joel has planned for the future, what he thinks right now, or just stalk him a little, you can find him on Facebook or Twitter.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Sea Babies by Tracey Scott-Townsend #coverreveal

I love a good cover reveal! I mean, who doesn't?

And this is for a book I'm really intrigued about - Sea Babies by Tracey Scott-Townsend. But before I show you the cover, let me tell you a bit about the book:

In September 2016,Lauren Wilson is travelling by ferry to the Outer Hebrides, about to begin a new job as a children’s social worker. She's also struggling to come to terms with the recent drowning of a Sheena, a teenage girl she had deeply cared for.       

Engrossed in her book, when somebody sits opposite her at a table on the ferry, Lauren refuses to look up, annoyed at having her privacy disturbed. But a hand is pushing a mug of tea across the table, and a livid scar on the back of the hand releases a flood of memories.
Lauren studies the hand on the table in front of her, the line of the scar drawing a map of the past in her mind. She was the one who created the scar, not long before her relationship with the love of her life ended almost thirty years ago. Lauren hasn’t seen Neil since she walked out of their shared life, unable to forgive either herself or him for a decision he strongly pressured her to make.
She’s not ready to meet his eyes, not yet. From his scar to his wrist bone, following his arm upwards and across his shoulder to his collarbone, his chin and the lower part of his face; Lauren remembers incidents from their past and tries to work out what caused their life to go so horribly off-track.  
When she finally meets his eyes and they speak to each other for the first time, Lauren believes she has set her life on a new course. But her gain will result in losses for others. Is this really what she wants to happen?

Some people believe in the existence of a parallel universe. Does Lauren have a retrospective choice about the outcome of her terrible recent accident, or is it the bearer of that much older scar who has the power to decide what happens to her life now? 

The gripping story of Sea Babies is inspired by the vast and raw landscapes of the Outer Hebrides, by the fraught journeys of refugees from one home to the hope of another across the sea, and also by artist Marina Abromovic’s 2010 MoMA performance:The Artist is Present, in which she spent sixty seconds staring into the eyes of her former lover.

Set mainly in the Outer Hebrides and Edinburgh from the 1980s to the present, Sea Babies is a potent emotional, psychological drama with a poignant twist in the tale. Sea Babies explores the more difficult aspects of relationships, the idea of choices and responsibility, and the refugee in all of us.

Doesn't that just sound fabulous? So without further ado, here's what you've all been waiting for.... the cover:

Isn't that gorgeous? I'm really intrigued and can't wait to read it. 

Just before I go, here's a wee bit about the author: 

Tracey is the author of The Last Time We Saw Marion, Of His Bones, The Eliza Doll and Another Rebecca. Her fifth novel, Sea Babies will be released on 1st May 2019. Her novels have been described as both poetic and painterly. Her first poetry collection, So Fast was published in January 2018.

Tracey is also a visual artist. All her work is inspired by the emotions of her own experiences and perceptions.

Tracey is the mother of four grown-up children and now spends a lot of time travelling in a small camper van with husband Phil and their rescue dogs, Pixie and Luna, gathering her thoughts and writing them down.

That's all for now.  Hope you're as excited about this one as I am.  Keep your eyes peeled towards the end of February for the blog tour. 

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Wasp Latitudes by Allan Watson

Having loved Heart Swarm by Allan Watson, I was delighted to have the opportunity to read and review his latest book, Wasp Latitudes. My thanks to Allan and the Reviewers Request Group from TBC on Facebook for the opportunity.

The Blurb:

Against a background of brutal attacks on people and property by a rag-tag group of homeless men whom the media quickly dub Berserkers, DI Will Harlan is juggling with a head-in-a-bucket patricide, a lethal wife-swapping session, a sex-tape scandal involving the Royal Scottish National Orchestra – and perhaps most discomfiting of all – a spate of late night phone calls from his favourite serial killer, Howie Danks.

As the wife-swapping investigation spirals into a glut of cold-blooded slayings carried out by a mysterious pair of killers known as the Wasp Queen and the Priest, Harlan has to look into the past where a cold case may contain uncomfortable answers. But it’s in the present where the real danger lies as he follows a twisted path of mind control and madness leading to a cruel land some call the Wasp Latitudes.

You can buy Wasp Latitudes from Amazon UK and US.

My Review:

I'm so glad to see DI Will Harlan again, who we first met in Heart Swarm (see my review here). This is a follow up to that book, but there is easily enough background included here for it to be dead as a standalone. But you might want to read Heart Swarm anyway, because it's great.

The prologue is hard hitting and sad. A desperate man doing a desperate thing. It's hard to see where it might fit into the story, but it does. For Will, the investigation really begins with a dead man with his head in a bucket, and that's not even the weirdest thing about the body. But we, the readers, have had a glimpse into a wife swapping evening which goes awfully wrong, and which again ties into the story.

I love Will. He's stubborn, not always very subtle but determined to get at the truth, even when it's not in the obvious places. And who else has a favourite serial killer? It was great to see him sparring with Cara again, although she worries me - she seems so brittle. One of the best things about Will is that he lives in a hotel run by an ex con, Lenny. They have such a great dynamic together - so fun. New recruit Trixie is a delight, and if there is more to come from DI Harlan, I hope Trixie will feature too. But my favourite character in this book only plays a small part, and provides a little bit of light relief, in a slightly sad way - Sara Buchanan.

There is a lot going on in here, with lots of characters and action which kept my attention and concentration. There are several seemingly unrelated storylines running through the book. I'd love to look inside Allan Watson's head and see where he gets his ideas from, because they are really dark! The murders carried out by the Priest and the Wasp Queen are specific, gruesome, and certainly original. I love that it's set in Glasgow and East Dunbartonshire, and features places I know.

This is original, intelligent, complex, dark, violent and gruesome in places. I loved it.

The Author:

Allan Watson is a writer whose work leans towards the dark end of the fiction spectrum. He is the author of seven novels – Dreaming in the Snakepark, Carapace, The Garden of Remembrance, 1-2-3-4, Monochrome, Heart Swarm and Wasp Latitudes.

In between the books, Allan wrote extensively for BBC Radio Scotland, churning out hundreds of comedy sketches, in addition to being a regular contributor for the world famous ‘Herald Diary’.

He occasionally masquerades as a composer/musician, collaborating with crime writer Phil Rickman in a band called Lol Robinson with Hazey Jane II whose albums have sold on four different continents (Antarctica was a hard one to crack).

Allan lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland, but has never worn the kilt or eaten a deep fried Mars Bar. He also once spent three days as a stand-in guitarist for the Bay City Rollers, but he rarely talks much about that…
You can find out more at Allen's website, or follow him on Twitter @allanwatson12 and Facebook.

Twitter – @allanwatson12

Facebook – Heart Swarm Page

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Denise Mina & Liam McIlvanney #BookWeekScotland

It was a dark, dreich and dreary night on Tuesday when I headed into Glasgow, but there was a warm welcome awaiting me at the Mitchell Library. I was there to see award winning authors Denise Mina and Liam McIlvanney talking about their latest books, which are both based on true crimes. They were in conversation with Douglas Skelton, who himself has written a raft of true crimes books. The event was an Aye Write special for Book Week Scotland.

Denise's latest book is The Long Drop and tells the story of the Peter Manuel murders in the 1950s. Following the deaths of his wife and daughter, William Watt appealed for information.  The murderer came forward and they apparently drank together for twelve hours. Denise read a piece about it, and was struck by the line 'Nobody knows what went on during that time'. Thus the idea of the book was born, although it was originally written as a screenplay, which didn't go anywhere.

It was performed at Oran Mor as part of their lunchtime Pie, a Pint and a Play feature. Members of the audience told her that she'd written it wrong and the truth was far better. Everyone has a story about it. So she looked into it further, and The Long Drop is the result. Although she has fictionalised parts of the story, in the most part, her retelling is factual. As Douglas described it, it's a true crime novel.

Denise told the audience that the court transcripts were fabulous. Half of the criminal underworld gave evidence and lied through their teeth. She read an excerpt from the book, from the court transcripts, and it was certainly entertaining.

Liam's latest book, The Quaker, is loosely based on the Bible John murders in the 1960s. He has used the case as a starting point, but written a fictional book. Douglas asked him what it was about that particular case. Liam explained that it had always interested him, and it was a great name too. He always wanted to write about it, although he knew others had, so decided to write a novel based on it.

Three chapters in his book are written from the point of view of the three dead women. A really interesting idea and, judging from the chapter he read out, very effective.

Liam chose to do what he did because he wasn't brave enough to do what Denise did (his words) - he wanted to be in charge of the material. For him, fictionalising it was liberating. Denise feels differently about this and there was a short discussion about whether it was morally better to stick closely to the facts of a case or to fictionalise it, but no conclusion was reached.

Liam had a reader contact him to say he worked with someone who he was convinced was Bible John. Douglas has had loads of similar comments because of the true crime books he's written -  lots are plausible and some he had passed on to the police to follow up.

Douglas asked about research. For Liam, who hasn't lived in Glasgow for ten years (he lives in New Zealand) it was perhaps easier to write about an older Glasgow, rather than worry about getting modern day details right. He did lots of research and spoke to people from around the time and also looked at microfiche material at the Mitchell Library.

Denise knew some stuff because everyone of a certain age has a Peter Manuel story. And she spoke to older people to get a feel for the atmosphere of the time.

Both have won the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year, Denise in 2017 and Liam this year. Douglas asked if they knew their books would be award winning. The answer was a very definite no. Both felt anxious about the books. As far as I can tell, and I've heard a few speak, pretty much all authors think their books are rubbish when they are finished, regardless of how good they are.

Douglas invited questions from the audience. Denise was asked if she'd ever considered writing about Bible John. She hasn't, but thinks it would be a different story if written by a woman, someone who could have been a victim. Liam was asked if he had any thoughts on the identify of Bible John. He didn't and confessed he wasn't really that interested, he 'd just wanted to tell the story.

Both authors were asked about planning - after the initial idea do they plot, or just get going? Liam is somewhere in the middle - he tries to do a little bit of planning, marking maybe five key points in the story and works from there. Denise has tried all sorts of methods from just launching into the story to storyboarding the whole thing. She works best with a rough idea of the plot and waiting to see where it takes her.

There was loads more great stuff on the evening, I just couldn't write fast enough! It was fun, entertaining and interesting. It was brilliant to meet both Denise and Liam, chat with Douglas, and I even managed a wee catch up with Bob McDevitt and found out how planning for Aye Write 2019 is going - can't wait for March!

Buying Links:

The Long Drop - Waterstones, Amazon UK, Amazon US and all good bookshops.
The Quaker - Waterstones, Amazon UK, Amazon US and all good bookshops.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

What She Saw Last Night by MJ Cross - Cover Reveal

It's always exciting when one of my faves has a new book coming out - The only trouble with this one is that I have to wait til April next year for it! April!

But I know it'll be worth the wait. 'What She Saw Last Night' is the new one by author Mason Cross, but this time he will be writing as MJ Cross, as this is a standalone novel, completely separate from his successful Carter Blake series.

And I have a lot of love for the cover. Isn't it gorgeous?

And if that hasn't tempted you yet, here's a bit about the book that surely will.

The Blurb:

Jenny Bowen is going home.

Boarding the Caledonian Sleeper, all she wants to do is forget about her upcoming divorce and relax on the ten hour journey through the night.

In her search for her cabin, Jenny helps a panicked woman with a young girl she assumes to be her daughter. Then she finds her compartment and falls straight to sleep.

Waking in the night, Jenny discovers the woman dead in her cabin ... but there's no sign of the little girl. The train company have no record of a child being booked on the train, and CCTV shows the dead woman boarding alone.

The police don't believe Jenny, and soon she tries to put the incident out of her head and tells herself that everyone else is right: she must have imagined the little girl.

But deep down, she knows that isn't the truth...

How cool does that sound? Personally, I can't wait.

What She Saw Last Night will be published by Orion on 18th April 2019. You can pre-order it now from Waterstones, Amazon UK and Amazon US.

The Author:

MJ Cross studied English at the University of Stirling and currently works in the voluntary sector. He has written a number of short stories, including A Living, which was shortlisted for the Quick Reads 'Get Britain Reading' Award and 'Expiry Date', published in Ellery Queen. Writing as Mason Cross, he has published five books in the Carter Blake series. He lives near Glasgow with his wife and three children.

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Secrets Between Us by Valerie Keogh #blogtour

One thing I love about blogging is the wide range of books I have the opportunity to read. The blurb for this one tempted me in and I'm so glad - I devoured it in a day.

The Blurb:

One letter a week for fifteen years. 780 identical white envelopes brimming with my sister’s darkest secrets. All the intimate details of a life as different to mine as could possibly be.

I read each letter slowly to make sure I understand it perfectly, one day very soon it will be a matter of life and death…

At the end of each letter, after signing her name, there is always one final sentence:

Don’t forget to burn this letter.

I’ll let you decide if I do…

A jaw-dropping psychological thriller that you will read in one sitting. If you loved dark, twisty thrillers like The Girl on The Train, The Couple Next Door and Friend Request, this unputdownable novel will have your heart racing long after you’ve finished reading.

Secrets Between Us was published by Bookoutre on 14th November 2018.

Buying Links:


My Review:

My read before this one had a scary supernatural element to it, but I probably found this book more chilling and creepy.

Ellie and Tia are identical twins. Following the death of their father, they've been living separate lives for fifteen years. In fact they haven't even seen each other in all that time. But Ellie writes a letter every single Friday, and Tia gets them every Monday.

When we meet them, Ellie has a successful career, is married to Will, and trying for a baby. Tia is living happily in a residential home for the 'Differently Abled', with a mild learning disability. Everything changes when Tia's home closes and she comes to live with  Ellie and Will.

To say much more about the book would give too much away! I loved it. I thought all the characters were interesting and engaging. Everybody is keeping secrets. I felt the most sympathy for Will, but found him a little naive, and he also makes a pretty huge mistake. The dynamic  between the twins is interesting, and I found my feelings about each of them changing as the story went on, sometimes cheering one twin on, sometimes rooting for the other. And sometimes being slightly horrified at one or other. The intellectual differences between the two women are implied, rather than laboriously explained. But are these differences as great as we think they are?

The plot is somewhat far fetched, but the writing makes it plausible. I had an idea of what might happen, but there was so much more to it. The relationship between the sisters is difficult throughout and, because of their physical similarities, and one's paranoia, it's unsettling, and maybe a little creepy.

The pace quickens towards the end of the book, and I found the ending really quite chilling. There were questions unanswered and I really wanted to jump forward ten years to see where the story was at then.

This is an unsettling story, and I mean that in the best possible way! It had me on edge a little bit, because there was a sense of foreboding, of something about to happen, and that kept me turning page after page. And I'm still thinking about it after several days. I haven't read any other work by Valerie Keogh, but I will certainly be looking to read more of her books in the future. A fine read.

The Author:

Valerie Keogh grew up reading Agatha Christie so when she started writing it seemed natural to write crime novels. She writes two different series, one based in Ireland featuring Garda Sergeant Mike West and a grittier one based in the UK featuring Nicola Connolly, a serial killer.



Valerie has also written a stand-alone psychological thriller, Exit Five from Charing Cross.

In March 2018, Valerie signed a two-book contract with the publisher, Bookouture. The first of these, Secrets Between Us, is out now.

Author Social Media Links:


Friday, 16 November 2018

Real Life Can Suck Sometimes

Real life, outside of books, book events, authors, book people and other fun stuff, can suck sometimes, don't you agree? Things get in the way - work, responsibilities, adulting, health. It sucks.

You may have noticed the blog has been a bit quieter over the last wee while. Unfortunately, I'm struggling with a health thing just now - nothing serious (I hope!) but quite impactful. So until it is resolved, or at least is more manageable, I won't be blogging much. Really hoping things will be sorted before the end of the year.

I will be fulfilling all blog tour and other reviewing commitments, starting tomorrow with my stop on the tour for Secrets Between Us by Valerie Keogh. But I might not be posting much else for a while.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible - thanks for hanging in there!


Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Darkness Series by CS Duffy - a #blogtour with a difference

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour to mark the release of the latest instalment of the 'Darkness' Series by CS Duffy.  Just Before Dawn, Episode One follows on from Dark of Night, Episodes One, Two and Three.

But this is no usual tour. Claire has written a short prequel to the series, which is being presented over a series of blogs. It started at Chapter One with Sharon at Chapter in my Life and yesterday was Christina's turn with Chapter Eleven at Christina's Bookshelf.

So, without further ado, I am delighted to present Chapter Twelve of the Prequel Tour for the Darkness Series:

The flat being ransacked was a total coincidence, Lorna told herself for the millionth time as she slipped into the musty smelling community hall next to the river. A pain in the neck that was down to living in a rubbish tenement with whippersnapper students who never bothered to shut the front door properly. Nothing more, nothing less.

Aside from the fact that nobody in their right mind could possibly give a monkey’s about the article she was writing for a journalism class, who even knew that she had been looking into the murder of a nurse from twenty years ago? The journalist she met, Adam Flanagan knew, but he had seemed barely interested in their conversation while they were having it. Lorna strongly suspected that he had forgotten she existed before he had got home that night.

She’d written a bit about her blog, but it was anonymous - none of her friends even knew she had one. She was being daft even giving it any thought, she told herself firmly. Her flat had been done over by common-or-garden bams off their heads, that was all there was to it..

‘What’s up with your face?’

Lorna looked up to see wee Taylor, the self appointed host of the swing dancing club, frowning at her. He couldn’t have been more than fifteen or sixteen, a skinny runt of the litter type in a blue shell suit, gold chain and sparkling earring.

‘You look like you’re dressed up to go carjacking,’ she said cheerfully. ‘Where on earth did you get that monstrosity of a tracksuit?’

‘My da got a load aff the back o’ a lorry aboot twenty year ago,’ Taylor said. ‘This is the last one. It’s pure vintage.’

‘It’s pure something.’

Lorna grinned and slipped through the crowd towards the dancefloor. It wasn’t long before a wee old guy in grey slacks that shone with age and a carefully pressed pullover pulled her onto the floor with surprising strength. Little Brown Jug was playing through the tinny speakers, and for a moment, Lorna enjoyed the sensation of being flung about. She’d taken up swing dancing in a fit of January keenness a few weeks ago. It had been part of her get-fit-at-last resolution, but no one had been more shocked than her when she started to enjoy it.

The wee old guy was good. He led her through some intricate footwork and turns, and she was grateful not to be able to think for concentrating on keeping up with him. Three songs later, she was too out of breath to talk and gestured that she was taking a break. The wee old guy nodded and held his hand out to a studenty-looking girl with purple hair.

Lorna pushed her way towards the queue at the bar, where Taylor was chatting to a woman she had never seen before.

The woman was tiny, the kind of delicate wee slip of a thing that made Lorna feel like a clumsy bear. Her hair fell all the way down her back in startling red waves, and as she turned to look at Lorna, Lorna was taken aback by something that flashed in her eyes. It was just an instant - as soon as it was gone Lorna was certain she must have imagined it. It wasn’t anger, exactly, but something urgent. Worry? Frustration?

‘This is Amy,’ Taylor said. ‘Lorna, Amy, Amy, Lorna. Amy wants to talk to you, Lorna. She’s been reading your blog.’

So there you go! Intrigued? I bet you are. Be sure to visit Claire's blog at A Knight's Read for tomorrow's instalment.

And if you'd like to know a bit more about the books themselves, here's the Dark of Night Episode One Blurb:

A debut that is quite outstanding.” 
“Glasgow has just found itself a fresh new name in crime fiction.” “An absolute belter of a book.”  

Haunted by the fact that he never got the chance to tell best friend Lorna that he loved her before she was murdered, Ruari sets out to track down the man he saw her with the night before she was murdered - the man police are certain was her killer.  

Forensic psychologist Amy Kerr has been watching prominent Glasgow lawyer Alec McAvoy for months, certain that he is the so-called Dancing Girls Killer who evaded capture in London five years previously.   

Now Ruari and Amy are closing in on the same man - but every step they take draws them deeper into the killer’s web.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK:
Dark of Night Episode One
Dark of Night Episode Two
Dark of Night Episode Three
Just Before Dawn Episode One

Amazon US:
Dark of Night Episode One
Dark of Night Episode Two
Dark of Night Episode Three
Just Before Dawn Episode One

 What Readers Are Saying:

“...completely addictive. Very fast paced with the short punchy time-stamped chapters adding to the sense of a fast-moving investigation.” - Joanne Baird, Portobello Book Blog

“...full of the Glasgow banter and humour laced with a good old-fashioned murder mystery. Lots of twists and turns and little pools of red herrings kept me engrossed all the way through.” - Sharon Bairden, Chapterinmylife Blog

“Set in Glasgow this is pure Scottish gold.” - Susan Hampson, Books from Dusk Til Dawn

“The characters are engaging and the storytelling is fast paced. The Glasgow setting provides a perfect backdrop to this tartan noir. The snippets of humour bring the characters to life and add a little light relief to the darkness of the night!” - Kim Macleod

“This is an exciting new addition to Scotland's impressive murder mystery genre. The author has their own quirky humour and a pitch perfect ear for Glasgow banter.” - Dorkus

The Author:

C.S. Duffy writes psychological suspense thrillers with a healthy dose of black humour. Her background is in film and TV. She has several projects in development in Sweden and the UK and her other writing has appeared in Elle Canada and The Guardian. She is the author of Life is Swede, a thriller that was originally written as a blog - leading several readers to contact Swedish news agencies asking them why they hadn’t reported the murder that features in the blog. She is the author of Dark of Night and Just Before Dawn, a thriller series set in Glasgow which was selected for a Spotlight slot at this year’s Bloody Scotland.

You can find her at:

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

The Night Visitor by Patrick Redmond #blogtour

Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Night Visitor by Patrick Redmond and I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts on this fab and spooky book. My thanks to Tracy Fenton for inviting me into the tour and to the author and Manatee Books for my review copy.

The Blurb:

When does a gift become a curse?

Meg has a gift. She can change lives. But when tragedy strikes in childhood she vows never to use it again.

Now an adult, she is living in Cornwall; a place where the elements themselves have a life of their own. When they call she refuses to listen, fearful of the dark places where her gift can lead.

But the dead will not be silenced. They are stronger than her. And now they have chosen she is powerless to escape…

The Night Visitor was published by Manatee Books Ltd on 29th October 2018 and you can purchase it from Amazon UK and US.

My Review:

OMG! I think my heart was broken and mended again at least twice in the course of reading this book. There were moments when I stopped breathing, and moments when my heart raced. I read it in almost one sitting, because I couldn't wait to find out what happened. And wow, it took me somewhere I wasn't expecting.

Meg has the same 'gift' as her grandmother had. But when, as a child, she tries to use it to help people, it just results in her being called names and getting bullied. She and her younger sister Grace, of whom Meg is fiercely protective, have to deal with some really tough experiences as children, but they survive. But because of the reactions to her gift, and the situations she has had to deal with, Meg shuts that part of herself away and refuses to acknowledge it.

The story rejoins Meg as an adult with a great job, but on a sabbatical in Cornwall at the insistence of her kind hearted boss, following a traumatic event. Although Meg is reluctant to stop working, she agrees to the six month break.

Cornwall plays a huge part in the book. It's like a character in itself.  The breathtakingly beautiful scenery is at times bleak, scary and unforgiving.

I loved Meg. I admired her fierce loyalty to her mother and Grace and her determination to shut off the scary part of her mind. I felt for her when she worried about getting close to people and cheered when she let Dan, her easy going next door neighbour, into her life. Their easy going friendship and fun banter provides some much needed light relief.

The actual night visitor scenes are chilling (literally in my case) and spooky. And I felt Meg's horror when she realises what she must do. And again, I loved her determination. It's a huge adrenaline rush towards the end, which took me completely by surprise. I would love to tell you all about it, but you'll need to read the book instead!

I loved this book. It was completely absorbing, and incredibly clever and original. It was the first I had read by Patrick Redmond, but it most certainly won't be the last!

The Author:

Patrick Redmond is an English author of psychological thrillers. He attended Felsted School, then studied law at Leicester University and British Columbia in Vancouver. Before becoming a writer, he worked for eight years as a solicitor in London.

You can find out more about Patrick and his books on his website

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Before She Falls by Dylan Young #blogtour

I have been looking forward to reading this, my first book by Dylan Young. I had no idea it was part of a series, and look forward to reading the others. Huge thanks to the author and Noelle Holten from Bookoutre for inviting me to be on the tour and providing my review copy.

The Blurb:

Kimberley was a beautiful young girl with the world at her feet.
Before she fell.
Before she was gone.

When Kimberley Williams jumps off Southerndown Cliff, her family and the close-knit community are shocked. What would make her take her own life when she had so much of it left to live?

Detective Anna Gwynne is assigned to the case after it becomes clear that someone made Kimberley jump. Someone had been sending Kimberley messages, saying they would tell everyone her secret…

Then Anna realises there are others, all being sent the same messages, all with their lives at risk. To find the truth she will have to confront her own past, the lies she’s told about her childhood and the demons hidden there…

Can she save these innocent lives?

What is the secret they’re all dying for?

An absolutely gripping thriller that will hook you from beginning to end. If you love Val McDermid, Angela Marsons and Robert Dugoni, you won’t be able to put down Before She Falls.

Buy links

My Review:

Gosh, where to start? I have children, and losing a child is absolutely the worst thing I can imagine. And my children are teenagers, a similar age to the children featured in this book. My blood ran cold. Of course, I have heard about websites of the type mentioned in this book, but nobody ever thinks this kind of thing will happen to them or theirs. 

I found bits of this book hard to read, because of the above. But I thought it was very original - I certainly haven't read anything else like it. It's bleak in places, but for me it was very real - a case of 'there but for the grace of God go I'.

I absolutely adored Anna. Her complete commitment to the job and her tenaciousness when she really felt that she was on to something. I thought the examination of her past was really interesting and I loved her vulnerability here. And Ben, championing her differences, was a hero. Her relationship with her mum is complex and at times brutal (on her mum's part) and sets Anna on a path to discover more about her and her family.

When I read this, I had no idea it was the third in a series. It works brilliantly as a standalone and I didn't feel disadvantaged for not reading the previous books at all. That said, I will be seeking then out because I enjoyed this one so much. 

Anna's team are all richly described, but I have to single out Phil Dawes, the newest member of the team. His relationship with Anna starts off tentatively, but moves to a place of mutual trust. He's a stand up, logical kind of guy that she realises that she can rely on.

I have deliberately not said much about the story. This is because I just don't want to ruin anything. It's a brilliant complex story, sad in places, tense and builds to a great climax. And there are a few red herrings along the way. I got frustrated when I thought I'd solved it, only to find that actually I hadn't. 

If you have read any Dylan Young before, particularly in this series, I'm sure that you'll love Before She Falls. If you're new to Dylan Young, then you will want to read more by him. I know I definitely do. 

The Author

Dylan Young grew up in a mining village in South Wales before boarding a train for university in London. A career in the NHS followed, but the urge to write never went away. Three dark psychological thrillers for Random House emerged in the late nineties, two of which were made into BBC films. Over the last decade, under different pseudonyms, he’s written children’s books and an adult contemporary fantasy series. But his liking for crime (writing) never died. Book 1 in the Detective Anne Gwynne crime thriller series, The Silent Girls, and Book 2, Blood Runs Cold, are available now.

Friday, 2 November 2018

Space Police: The Day The Earth Moved A Bit by David Blake

I was delighted to have the chance to read another book in the fabulous Space Police series by David Blake. Thanks to David and the Reviewers Request Group in The Book Club on Facebook for my review copy.

The Blurb:

It’s the 25th Century and the President of Earth has become a father, again.

Meanwhile… a massive planet-sized blob reaches Earth’s outer atmosphere and demands to speak to a dolphin, threatening to end life as we know it if it can’t. But there's only one left in the whole of the universe, and it’s not on Earth where it’s supposed to be.

As Capstan and Dewbush are assigned the task of finding it, the President’s wife-bot is given a recipe for a dolphin pasta bake. She decides to order the main ingredient online, but that leaves the two space policemen facing a race against time to get to the dolphin before Sirloin Mallet, the planet’s most deadly freelance animal hunter.

This, the sixth in the brand new Space Police series, is a hilariously funny Sci Fi space comedy that's just perfect for fans of Douglas Adams Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Terry Pratchett, and the Space Team books.

Space Police: The Day The Earth Moved A Bit was published by Britcom Publishing by 28th June 2018. You can purchase it from Amazon UK and US.

You can find my reviews of other books in the Space Police series using the links below:
Space Police: The Final Fish Finger
Space Police: The Toaster that Time Forgot
Space Police: Rise of the Retail-Bot
Space Police: Enemy at the Cat Flap 

My Review:

Yay! My favourite intergalactic crime fighting duo are back again! And that always brings a smile to my face.

Before they can begin their promised holiday in just a couple of days time, they first have to try to save the world. Again. They have to find the last dolphin left on the planet. Except it's not on the planet anymore.

Although this is the sixth book in the series, it works completely as a standalone. So it doesn't matter if you haven't read the others (each of which also stands alone) , although I suggest you do, because they're fabulous.

As with the other books in the series, Capstan and Dewbush end up in various ridiculous predicaments and meet an array of colourful people and creatures. It's all utterly bonkers and brilliant.

I need to mention Susan, the wife-bot of the President of the Earth because she's great. Having suddenly gone off the idea of marrying the President she then got broody for about five minutes, and ordered up some babies! Sounds like a pain free way to have a baby - I like that idea! Now that urge has passed, although the babies are on their way, she is obsessed about making meals from very rare animals. And she has quite a temper when things don't go her way - with the nanny-bot, for instance. She's a gem.

I should also mention the President 's Chief of Staff who, frankly, is a saint.

I loved this book and hope to see Capstan and Dewbush back before too long, but hopefully after they've had their holiday!

The Author:

David Blake is married and lives in London with his young family.

When not writing he spends his time attempting to persuade his wife that she really doesn't need to buy the entire contents of Ikea, even if there is a sale on. And when there are no items of flat-packed furniture for him to assemble he enjoys writing, base-jumping, and drawing up plans to demolish his house to build the world’s largest charity shop.

For more information, visit David's website.

These Lost & Broken Things by Helen Fields

I am thrilled to be on the blog tour for this historical thriller from Helen Fields. This isn't a genre I go to very often but I knew He...