Thursday, 16 August 2018

Bonds: Under the Armour (Tales of Freya) by Sarah Dahl

Here's another mini review of one of the Tales of Freya stories by Sarah Dahl.


The Blurb:

“The Last Kingdom meets 50 Shades of Grey” (Matty W)
“A must-read series” (Sue Wallace)

Viking warrior Aldaith and his shield maiden Nyssa engage in a heated skirmish to prepare for an imminent battle. But the looming slaughter makes their sensual duel get out of hand in more ways than one …

Part of the Tales of Freya series of short stories, set in the Viking era, this is a stand-alone, adult read with a HEA.

My Review:

Another very enjoyable short story from this author, featuring warriors Aldaith and Nyssa fighting and loving. This story is very atmospheric and sensual, but never crude or dirty. My main complaint is that it is too short - took me just 20 minutes to read - wanted more! But very enjoyable.

Bonds is available from Amazon UK and US.

You can read my review of Healer: The Gift of Dreams here and the one for Monk:  Captured by Temptation here.

The Author:


Sarah Dahl lives at the edge of the rural German Eifel and writes historical fiction (novels and short stories) primarily set in the Viking age. She also works as an editor, translates, and coaches new writers in German and English. She is interested in everyday life in bygone centuries and the human stories that may have occurred behind the hard, historical facts.

Her author webpage is https://sarah-dahl.com


Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Monk: Captured by Temptation (Tales of Freya) by Sarah Dahl

I like to mix it up a bit occasionally, and I 'm not averse to a little bit of romance and erotica! I will shortly be reviewing Tower: Unchained by Love, the latest in the Tales of Freya Set from Sarah Dahl. So I thought I'd share a couple of mini reviews of other stories in the series, starting with this one.


The Blurb:

“The Last Kingdom meets 50 Shades of Grey” (Matty W)
“Like an espresso shot of hot Viking erotic-ness” (Diane D)

Captured monk Alistair is taken to a Viking farm as a slave. In the dead of night, he is disturbed by his new masters' carnal reunion. The monk turns to fervent prayer, but soon he is interrupted by his alluring pagan mistress: Runa challenges him to break his vows …

Part of the Tales of Freya series of short stories, set in the Viking era, this is a stand-alone, adult read with a HEA.

My Review:

Well, I'm slightly flushed!

This is a short story set in the time of the Vikings. Alistair, an enslaved monk, is tempted in the ways of the flesh by his new mistress and master. To say anymore would spoil it! The story was evocative, intimate and sensual. My only real complaint is that it was too short - it took me just 15 minutes to read.

But I certainly enjoyed it. It impressed me enough to download another short story (in the same series) by the same author.

You can buy Monk from Amazon UK and US.

You can read my review of Healer: The Gift of Dreams here.

The Author:


Sarah Dahl lives at the edge of the rural German Eifel and writes historical fiction (novels and short stories) primarily set in the Viking age. She also works as an editor, translates, and coaches new writers in German and English. She is interested in everyday life in bygone centuries and the human stories that may have occurred behind the hard, historical facts.

Her author webpage is https://sarah-dahl.com

Friday, 10 August 2018

Blind Side by Jennie Ensor

Another book I enjoyed in my pre blog days that I wanted to share with you.


The Blurb:

Can you ever truly know someone? And what if you suspect the unthinkable?

London, 2005. Georgie is attracted to Nikolai, a volatile ex-soldier she meets in a pub. Despite her friend Julian's warnings, she’s tempted to risk everything. Then she begins to suspect that the Russian is hiding something terrible from her...

BLIND SIDE explores love and friendship, guilt and betrayal, secrets and sexual obsession. A shiver-inducing psychological mystery for fans of quality psychological suspense such as Louise Doughty's Apple Tree Yard.

My Review:

This isn't a book that I would necessarily normally have read, but I was taken by the blurb, and am really glad I was, as I really enjoyed the story. It tells the story of Georgie, her best friend Julian and Nikolai, a Russian man she meets and falls for. There is a cast of supporting characters, including Georgie's dad. The three main players are all well described, particularly Nikolai who is really interesting. I think I'm a little bit in love with him!

The book plays on our fears of terrorism and radicalisation. The author has clearly researched the Russia/Chechnya situation, and also describes PTSD well. The story didn't go the way I thought it would, which is always good, and I was particularly pleased on this occasion! The book also deals with obsession, and that character's journey is really interesting. Really enjoyed this book (although I would have liked a wee update a year or two down the line!). And would recommend to anyone who enjoys a good story with strong characters and interesting relationships.

Blind Side is available to buy from Amazon UK and US.

The Author:


A Londoner with Irish heritage, Jennie Ensor began her writing career as a journalist, obtaining a Masters in Journalism (winning two awards) and covering topics from forced marriages to accidents in the mining industry. She isn’t afraid to tackle controversial issues in her novels, either: Islamic terrorism, Russian gangsters and war crimes in her debut Blind Side, a psychological mystery; child abuse and sexual exploitation in her domestic noir The Girl in His Eyes, which will be published by Bloodhound Books on 18th September 2018.

Jennie Ensor’s poetry has appeared in many literary publications, most recently Ink Sweat and Tears. Jennie briefly considered doing research into plasma physics while studying astrophysics at uni. In her spare time, she sings in a chamber choir and dreams of setting off on a long trip with her Kindle.

 You can visit Jennie's website here.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Dead of Night by Michael Stanley #BlogTour

I'm so excited it's come round to my spot on this tour, so I can finally share my thoughts with you! Huge thanks to Michael Stanley, Orenda Books and Anne Cater for inviting me to get involved.


The Blurb:

When freelance journalist, Crystal Nguyen, heads to South Africa, she thinks she’ll be researching an article on rhino-horn smuggling for National Geographic, while searching for her missing colleague. But within a week, she’s been hunting poachers, hunted by their bosses, and then arrested in connection with a murder. And everyone is after a briefcase full of money that may hold the key to everything…

Fleeing South Africa, she goes undercover in Vietnam, trying to discover the truth before she’s exposed by the local mafia. Discovering the plot behind the money is only half the battle. Now she must convince the South African authorities to take action before it’s too late. She has a shocking story to tell, if she survives long enough to tell it…

Fast-paced, relevant and chilling, Dead of Night is a stunning new thriller that exposes one of the most vicious conflicts on the African continent…

Published on 15th June 2018 by Orenda Books. 


My Review:

I was really looking forward to this. Although I hadn't read any other books by Michael Stanley, I had heard only good things. And I know the calibre of the books which come out of the Orenda stables.

I've never been to South Africa but I have been to Kenya, and was lucky enough to see rhinos in the wild. So I was particularly interested in a story featuring these magnificent animals.

Before I get started, can I just tell you how much I love the cover? It just says Africa to me. The deep oranges evoke the heat, there is the contrast between the cityscape and the open safari ground, and a woman - Crystal - right in the middle of everything. Fabulous.

Crystal, or Crys as she is known, is a formidable heroine. She's very gutsy and seems adaptable to pretty much any scenario she comes across. As a journalist, she wants to find the story, and she clearly cares about the issue of rhino horn smuggling. But her real motivation is to find her close friend Michael, who is missing. But almost nobody she comes across is exactly who they seen to be.

Her return to Vietnam was interesting. She is conflicted returning to her country of origin, and this is clearly shown in the writing. Although she doesn't have too long to dwell on it as she pursues the truth. And Michael.

Other than Crys, the standout character for me was Bongani. Initially, he came across as a simple man, but he was far from that. A man torn in several directions, finding his loyalties tested. And he is beautifully written.

The action and intrigue come thick and fast throughout the book, which is superbly paced. And it all leads to an explosive climax, which I found hugely satisfying. Although there was one wee thing which made me a little sad, but I can't tell you what it is - you'll just need to read it instead!

This novel is so current. It's intelligently written and obviously well researched. All the characters are well drawn, and the settings evocative. The plights of rhinos, and actually many humans in different situations are well highlighted and explained. There is one short graphic scene which is quite difficult to read, but I felt it was important to the plot.

As always with a pair of authors, I am fascinated and bewildered by how their writing process works. The writing here is absolutely seamless, as if written by one person, so Michael and Stanley are clearly completely in tune with each other.

I don't know whether there is more planned for Crys, but I would love to hear more about her. Regardless, I will be seeking out more by Michael Stanley. I loved this book, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys an intelligent, relevant thriller which packs a punch, or has an interest in Africa or animal conservation. An absolute belter of a book! 

You can buy Dead of Night on Amazon UK and US.

The Authors:



Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Both were born in South Africa and have worked in academia and business. On a flying trip to Botswana, they watched a pack of hyenas hunt, kill and devour a wildebeest, eating both flesh and bones. That have them the premise for their first mystery, A Carrion Death, which introduced Detective 'Kubu' Bengu of the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department. It was a finalist for five awards, including the CWA Debut Dagger. The series has been critically acclaimed, and their third book, Death of the Mantis, won the Barry Award and was a finalist for an Edgar award. Deadly Harvest was a finalist for an International Thriller Writer's award. Dead of Night is their first standalone thriller.



Sunday, 5 August 2018

Heart Swarm by Allan Watson

I still have one or two reviews to share with you from the days before the blog, so here's another wee one.


The Blurb:

It feels like history is repeating itself when out-of-favour detective Will Harlan gets summoned to a crime scene in the village of Brackenbrae after a young girl is found hanging in the woods.

Five years ago Harlan headed up the investigation of an identical murder in the same woods; a mishandled investigation that effectively destroyed his credibility as a detective. The new case immediately takes a bizarre twist when the body is identified as the same girl found hanging in the woods five years ago.

The following day a local man commits suicide and the police find more dead girls hidden in his basement. The case seems open and closed.

Until the killing spree begins.

Harlan finds himself drawn into a dark world where murder is a form of self-expression and human life treated as one more commodity to be used and discarded.

The only clue that links everything is a large oil painting of ‘Sagittarius A’ – a massive black hole at the centre of the galaxy orbited by thirteen stars daubed in blood with the words –
Heart Swarm.

Published by Caffeine Nights Publishing on 5th October 2017.

My Review:

Well, what a story! I thought it was highly original, and it sets out to shock, right from the beginning, but without sacrificing the story.

It focuses on Will Harlan, a cop disgraced following a (perceived) botched investigation into a young girl's death five years previously. But when the body of the same girl is found again, and more and more bodies begin to pile up, it seems that Harlan might not have been so wrong after all. The story is well paced and I enjoyed Will's relationship, such as it is, with Cara - both damaged souls. And when we discover the reason for the killings... not for the faint hearted.

I really enjoyed it and look forward to reading more by this author.

And I can't go without mentioning the cover - it's fabulous! And very creepy.

You can buy Heart Swarm at Amazon UK and US, Waterstones and other good bookshops.

The Author:


Allan Watson is a writer from Glasgow whose work leans towards deliciously dark end of the fiction spectrum. In between books, he once wrote extensively for BBC Radio Scotland, churning out hundreds of comedy sketches, which some people have unkindly commented were all basically a variation of one single joke.

When not writing, he masquerades as a composer/musician, sometimes collaborating with crime writer Phil Rickman in a band called Lol Robinson and Hazey Jane II whose albums have sold on four different continents (Antarctica was a hard one to crack). He also once spent three days as a stand-in guitarist for the Bay City Rollers, but he rarely talks much about that...

Allan lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland, but has never worn the kilt or eaten a deep fried Mars Bar.

He is currently pretending to work on something new.

Friday, 3 August 2018

Murder on the Marshes by Clare Chase #blogtour

Today is my stop on the blog tour for this fabulous book. Clare Chase is a new name to me, and this was the first book by her that I  had read. But it definitely won't be the last! 


The Blurb:

Do you love twisty murder mysteries? Meet Tara Thorpe – the clue to a puzzling local murder has landed right on her doorstep. Perfect for fans of Faith Martin, LJ Ross and Joy Ellis.

As the sun rises, a wealthy young woman – Samantha Seabrook – is found drowned in the ornamental fountain of a deserted Cambridge courtyard, the only clue – an antique silver chain wound tightly around her throat. 

It’s Tara Thorpe’s job to discover what happened to Miss Seabrook – but the case becomes personal when she learns that Samantha had been receiving death threats… rather like the one that landed on Tara’s doorstep the night the woman died.

Together with Detective Inspector Garstin Blake, Tara tracks the killer to the dank and dangerous fens on the outskirts of the city. But there’s something Tara can’t quite admit to Blake about her past – and it could make all the difference to whether they live... or die.

An absolutely gripping page-turner that will keep you hooked until the very last page. The first in a series of unputdownable Cambridge mysteries featuring Thorpe and Blake.
Published by Bookouture on 31st July 2018. 


My Review:

When I began reading this book, I couldn't help but think of the TV detective programme Morse (and subsequently Lewis) set in Oxford. But Murder on the Marshes is set in the other big, equally beautiful, university city of Cambridge and opens in one of the colleges of Cambridge University. It was lovely to see the city featured, and the author obviously knows it well.

I liked Tara from the outset. Ballsy, feisty and not afraid to go after what she wants. But she has had some troubles in the past, which are touched upon here. It's refreshing to see a main character who is a journalist, rather than a police officer, although to be fair, she does share the billing almost equally with DI Blake. I really enjoyed the development of their relationship throughout the story. They each pursue the case in their own, using their own methods, and it was interesting to see where the differences were. But then they come together to share ideas. And there's maybe a wee bit of a frisson between the two of them.

I really enjoyed meeting all the characters from the university, even though some of them were distinctly unlikable. And Tara's relationship with her mother is interesting. The pacing is perfect - I read it quite quickly because I always wanted to know what happened next. And I didn't work it out, and I love it when that happens.

Would highly recommend, and I'm eagerly awaiting the follow up.

Many thanks to Noelle Holton at Bookouture for inviting me to be a part of this tour. 

You can buy Murder on the Marshes on Amazon UK and US, and Waterstones.

The Author:



Clare Chase writes women sleuth mysteries and recently signed a three-book deal with Bookouture for a new crime series set in Cambridge. The opening book, Murder on the Marshes, was published on 31st July 2018. The mystery follows investigative journalist Tara Thorpe as she teams up with Detective Garstin Blake to solve the murder of a young female professor at Cambridge University. The case takes them through the dark underbelly of Cambridge and in to the murky fens that surround the centuries-old city. The second and third books in the series are scheduled for publication in late 2018/early 2019.

After graduating from London University with a degree in English Literature, Clare moved to Cambridge and has lived there ever since. She's fascinated by the city's contrasts and contradictions, which feed into her writing. She's worked in diverse settings - from the 800-year-old University to one of the local prisons - and lived everywhere from the house of a Lord to a slug-infested flat. The terrace she now occupies, with her husband and teenage children, presents a good happy medium.

As well as writing, Clare loves family time, art and architecture, cooking, and of course, reading other people's books.

Clare’s debut novel, You Think You Know Me, was shortlisted for the Novelicious Undiscovered Award 2012, and an EPIC award in 2015. It was also chosen as a debut of the month by Lovereading.

You can find Clare's website and blog at www.clarechase.com. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

The Stories She Tells by LK Chapman

Hello lovelies

So sorry it's been a while. I was on holiday, and then unwell for a wee while. But I'm back now, and have a busy time coming up with blog tours and all manner of booky things.

But first, here's another short review of another book I read way back in the days before I started my wee blog.


The Blurb:

A psychological page-turner with a shocking and heartbreaking family secret

When Michael decides to track down ex-girlfriend Rae who disappeared ten years ago while pregnant with his baby, he knows it could change his life forever. His search for her takes unexpected turns as he unearths multiple changes of identity and a childhood she tried to pretend never happened, but nothing could prepare him for what awaits when he finally finds her.

Appearing to be happily married with a brand new baby daughter, Rae is cagey about what happened to Michael's child and starts to say alarming things- that her husband is trying to force her to give up her new baby for adoption, that he's attempting to undermine the bond between her and her child, and deliberately making her doubt her own sanity.

As Michael is drawn in deeper to her disturbing claims he begins to doubt the truth of what she is saying. But is she really making it all up, or is there a shocking and heartbreaking secret at the root of the stories she tells?

My Review:

I didn't know what to expect from this book but I very much  enjoyed it. It really pulls some emotional punches - parts of it are difficult to read. But well worth it. Michael discovers his ex girlfriend Rae might have been pregnant when they split up, ten years previously, and sets out to find her. When he eventually finds her she appears to have a perfect life, but all is not what it initially seems. I found Rae fascinating and confusing - every time I thought I had a handle on what was going on, it would take me somewhere else. The ending, and what leads to it, was a shock. I was still thinking about Michael and Rae long after I'd finished reading. I will certainly look out for other work by this author.

You can buy The Stories She Tells on Amazon UK and US.


The Author:

Louise Katherine Chapman was born in Somerset, UK, in 1986. She studied psychology at the University of Southampton and has worked as a psychologist creating personality questionnaires for a consultancy company. She has also spent some time volunteering for mental health charity Mind. 

She loves to write because she loves learning about people and she loves stories. A major turning point in her life was the day she realised that no matter how strange, cruel or unfathomable the actions of other people can sometimes be, there is always a reason for it, some sequence of events to be unravelled. Since then she is always asking “why” and “what if” and she is fascinated by real life stories capturing the strength, peculiarities or extremes of human nature. 

LK Chapman’s first novel, Networked, was a sci-fi thriller but now she’s turned her attention to writing psychological suspense. Her first psychological thriller, Anything for Him, was published in 2016, and her novel The Stories She Tells was released in October 2017.

Chapman lives in Hampshire with her husband and young family. She enjoys walks in the woods, video games, and spending time with family and friends.

You can find out more on her website.

Bonds: Under the Armour (Tales of Freya) by Sarah Dahl

Here's another mini review of one of the Tales of Freya stories by Sarah Dahl. The Blurb : “The Last Kingdom meets 50 Shades of G...