#Review : Dirty Little Secrets by Jo Spain @SpainJoanne @QuercusBooks #DirtyLittleSecrets

I am thrilled today to bring you my review of this fabulous book. Many thanks to Quercus Books for letting me have a copy of the book for review.

Blurb:

Six neighbours, six secrets, six reasons to want Olive Collins dead.

In the exclusive gated community of Withered Vale, people’s lives appear as perfect as their beautifully manicured lawns. Money, success, privilege – the residents have it all. Life is good.

There’s just one problem.

Olive Collins’ dead body has been rotting inside number four for the last three months. Her neighbours say they’re shocked at the discovery but nobody thought to check on her when she vanished from sight.

The police start to ask questions and the seemingly flawless facade begins to crack. Because, when it comes to Olive’s neighbours, it seems each of them has something to hide, something to lose and everything to gain from her death.

My Review: I discovered Jo Spain through her Tom Reynolds series which I love so when I heard about this new book I was intrigued and excited. This is a stand alone so you don’t have to have read any of the others other books first.

This story questions how much we really know about our neighbours. People move in next door to us and we may talk but what do we really know about them, what secrets are they hiding?

Olive Collins lives in Withered Vale before the other houses are built and the gated community created. The story is told from her thoughts and memories about people who have and still live there, what they are like and her efforts to build a community within the gates. At the beginning of the book she is found dead and as the investigation into her death progresses we learn about the other residents of the neighbouring homes.

This is a skillfully woven story which keeps you wondering all the way through until the resolution which I admit I didn’t see coming. We learn about the other residents through their reactions to the police investigation and their comments about each other but also through the eyes of the police, the outsiders who bring a fresh perspective to the area, almost like opening a window and letting air into a stuffy room. Throughout this all we get Olive’s voice, almost as if she is still there and providing her own commentary on the neighbours. It’s brilliantly done and perfectly plotted. I’ve admitted I didn’t see the resolution coming but when it did it fitted in perfectly and everything slotted into place like the final piece of a jigsaw.

If you’ve never read any of Jo Spain’s books before this would be an ideal one to start with, it’s a refreshingly original read in the psychological thriller genre.

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#BlogTour #Review : Love Heart Lane by Christie Barlow. @rararesources

Blurb:

Welcome to Love Heart Lane…

When Flick Simons returns to the small village of Heartcross she only expected to stay for a few days. The white-washed cottages of Love Heart Lane might be her home, but the place holds too many painful memories, and of one man in particular – Fergus Campbell.

When a winter storm sweeps in, the only bridge connecting the village to the main land is swept away! As the villagers pull together, Flick finds herself welcomed back by the friends she once left behind. And as the snow begins to melt, maybe there is a chance that Fergus’s heart will thaw too…

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Love-Heart-Lane-Christie-Barlow-ebook/dp/B07DX1YXKM/

UShttps://www.amazon.com/Love-Heart-Lane-Christie-Barlow-ebook/dp/B07DX1YXKM/

 

My Review : I’ve read at least one book by this author before so when the email for this blog tour popped up in my inbox I was excited, it sounded fresh and fun and just what I was needing.

Overall I enjoyed the story, the book is set in Scotland and living there myself I can certainly appreciate the wild weather in the book as it’s a fair representation of how our weather can be at times. There were a lot of characters in the book and they were well developed, for me they each had clear personalities, which isn’t always the case when there are this number of characters. I have to admit though, that I didn’t entirely warm to Felicity. I liked her but there were things that she said and did that I found quite immature and inconsiderate. Some people will no doubt argue that I’m being too hard on her but that’s how I felt although I did feel she matured somewhat during the course of the book.

The village has to deal with a lot in the course of a few weeks, a timescale that I felt was a bit short, but they rallied together and there was a real sense of community there, something that sadly is missing from a lot of places these days. It was lovely to see people being concerned about others welfare and helping out because it was the right thing to do.

This is one of those books that is perfect for a horrible weather day, one where you are all cosy with your choice of hot drink, I would recommend hot chocolate for this though. You can be sheltered from the weather outside and enjoy the book for what it is, a cosy read that is ideal winter reading.

About the author:

Christie Barlow is the author of A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother, The Misadventures of a Playground Mother, Kitty’s Countryside Dream, Lizzie’s Christmas Escape, Evie’s Year of Taking Chances, The Cosy Canal Boat Dream, A Home at Honeysuckle Farm and Love Heart Lane. Her writing career came as somewhat a surprise when she decided to write a book to teach her children a valuable life lesson and show them that they are capable of achieving their dreams. The book she wrote to prove a point is now a #1 bestseller in the UK, USA & Australia.

Christie is an ambassador for @ZuriProject raising money/awareness and engaging with impoverished people in Uganda through organisations to improve their well-being as well as Literary Editor for http://www.mamalifemagazine.co.uk bringing you all the latest news and reviews from the book world.

website www.christiebarlow.com

Twitter @ChristieJBarlow

Facebook page Christie Barlow author

#BlogTour #Review :Murder in the Caribbean by Robert Thorogood. @HQStories

Blurb: DI Richard Poole is hot, bothered and fed up. He’s stuck on the tropical island of Saint-Marie, forced to live in a rickety old shack on a beach, and there isn’t a decent cup of tea to be found anywhere.

When a boat explodes in the harbour, Richard and his team soon realise there’s a new murderer on the loose. But who is it? And why did the killer leave behind a ruby at the scene of the crime?

As the police dig deeper, they uncover secrets that go back decades, and a crime from the past that can never be forgiven.

Worse still, they soon realise this is only the beginning. They’ve got to catch the killer before there’s another death in paradise…

My Review: Being a fan of the TV series, it made sense for me to read this book when it popped up on my radar. The series is back in January and is the perfect antidote to the British winter so reading this book in December seemed like perfect timing, a good way to get some Caribbean sunshine into my life a bit earlier than planned.

Despite being set in the Caribbean I didn’t get much of a feel for the island at all, whether that was because I know it from the TV series and could imagine it myself or for some other reason I’m not sure, but I didn’t get any real sense of the tropical paradise of Saint Marie.

However, what I did get was a carefully plotted detective story, one which kept me reading and guessing until the same time that DI Poole figured it out. It’s not often I work out the killer at the same time or before the police but having done that I still enjoyed hearing/reading the explanation as to why and how. There were some red herrings and twists and turns in the book (just the right amount, not too many) so it was a story that kept me guessing and intrigued throughout.

Although I’ve not loved this book as much as I thought I would, I did still enjoy it and found it a nice, calming antidote to the chaos and pressure of Christmas. I could read it and get caught up in the investigation and forget about gift buying or decorations for a while which is always a good thing as far as I’m concerned.

#BlogTour #Extract : Halfway by B. E. Jones @bevjoneswriting @TheCrimeVault #Halfway @damppebbles

Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for this amazing sounding book with an extract from it, so read on and enjoy!

Blurb:

If everyone is lying, who can you trust?

The Halfway Inn is closed to customers, side-lined by a bypass and hidden deep in inhospitable countryside. One winter’s night, two women end up knocking on the door, seeking refuge as a blizzard takes hold.

But why is the landlord less than pleased to see them? And what is his elderly father trying so hard to tell them?

At the local police station PC Lissa Lloyd is holding the fort while the rest of her team share in the rare excitement of a brutal murder at an isolated farmhouse. A dangerous fugitive is on the run – but how can Lissa make a name for herself if she’s stuck at her desk? When a call comes in saying the local district nurse is missing, she jumps at the chance to investigate her disappearance.

The strangers at Halfway wait out the storm, but soon realise they might have been safer on the road. It seems not all the travellers will make it home for Christmas . . .

Purchase Links:

Amazon.co.uk: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Halfway-addictive-psychological-thriller-winter-ebook/dp/B076PFC1SR/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1543671115&sr=8-1&keywords=halfway

Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/Halfway-addictive-psychological-thriller-winter-ebook/dp/B076PFC1SR/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1543671936&sr=8-1&keywords=halfway+b.e.+jones

Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/book/halfway/b-e-jones/9781472127914

Foyles: https://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/fiction-poetry/halfway,b-e-jones-9781472127914

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/halfway-5

NOOK: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/halfway-b-e-jones/1129819188?ean=9781472127921

Extract: Arriving at the crime scene

When we get to the farmhouse at the top of the hill an ambulance is already parked at the edge of the higgledy flagstone path, doors yawning wide. Its blue light casts spectral shadows on the violet misting of early morning snow but the siren is off, the urgency passed – I realize it’s no longer a race between life and death. One of them has won.

Three other police cars have turned up, not a bad turnout since this is more than half the available workforce in peak flu and Christmas holiday time, and most of them are probably hung over. Half a dozen uniformed officers I recognize, all of them men, are rubbing their hands together and milling around on the front path, looking for someone to tell them what to do.

The strangest thing of all is the silence. It hits us as we wind down our windows; it’s as if someone has turned the volume off on a TV show. None of the usual off-colour banter is taking place, no joshing, joking, chit-chat is being exchanged. The only sound is the occasional crackle and mutter of radios and the cackle of alarmed crows in the close-knit trees rising all around us.

Light blazes from the windows of the farmhouse, illuminating it like a film set at the point when the actors are about to take their places before someone calls action. Determined to get closer, we crawl our squad car past the unhinged front gate, taking care to avoid the banked snow, pulling up around the back and slipping unchallenged up the brambly path towards the open back door.

That’s when I see it, the dog.

It’s strung up in the kitchen window, electrical wire looped from its neck to the curtain rail above. In the full light of the kitchen, through the panes of glass between us, we can see it’s a small collie, black and white, dangling full length, its legs limp, empty eyes half open.

‘What. The. Fuck?’ says Jim, half to me and half towards the two young officers already flanking the door. Jim is part of that generation that never curses in front of a lady, and it’s a mark of his shock that he doesn’t automatically apologize. Not that I care, not when I’m horribly fascinated by the string of pinkish drool stretching itself from the dog’s mouth. After a moment I realize my own mouth has fallen open and snap it shut, swallowing heavily.

Neither of us speaks.

‘That’s . . . interesting,’ says Jim, finding his voice first, pulling off his helmet and running his hand over his cropped grey hair in a gesture I’ve come to recognize as shorthand for, ‘I can tell you, love, the world is becoming a strange and unfamiliar place and I’ll be glad to get out of this game.’

‘Hey, Sarge,’ says the youngest officer guarding the door, ‘Fucked up or what?’

What is there to do but edge closer, along the path towards the door, though right now every piece of crime scene protocol, not always my strong suit anyway, has left my brain. Through the gap in the officers’ shoulders I can see an old man inside, sitting on a kitchen chair in the hall, eyes glassy-wide, face bruised, right arm hanging limply in his lap. His breath heaves in and out, high and thin, a papery crackle. A paramedic is trying to put an oxygen mask on him but he keeps pushing it off, mumbling, ‘My wife, my wife . . . please . . .’

About the author:

Beverley Jones was born in the Rhondda Valleys, South Wales, and started her ‘life of crime’ as a reporter on The Western Mail before moving into TV news with BBC Wales Today.

She covered all aspects of crime reporting before switching sides as a press officer for South Wales police, dealing with the media in criminal investigations, security operations and emergency planning.

Now a freelance writer she channels these experiences of ‘true crime,’ and the murkier side of human nature, into her dark, psychological thrillers set in and around South Wales.

Halfway, her fifth crime novel follows the release of Where She Went by Little Brown in 2017.

Bev’s previous releases, The Lies You Tell, Make Him Pay and Fear The Dark are also available from Little Brown as e-books.

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bevjoneswriting

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bev.jones.9083477

Website: http://bevjoneswriting.co.uk/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34040919-where-she-went
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Beverley-Jones/e/B00F6I6XQG/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

#BlogTour #PromoPost : The Sky Woman by J. D. Moyer. @johndavidmoyer #RandomThingsTours @flametreepress

Blurb: Car-En, a ringstation anthropologist on her first Earth field assignment, observes a Viking-like village in the Harz mountains. As Car-En secretly observes the Happdal villagers, she begins to see them as more than research subjects (especially Esper, a handsome bow-hunter). When Esper’s sister is taken by an otherwordly sword-wielding white-haired man, she can no longer stand by as a passive witness. Knowing the decision might end her career, she cuts off communication with her advisor and pursues the abductor into the mountains.

Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sky-Woman-Fiction-Without-Frontiers/dp/1787580423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1540548267&sr=8-1&keywords=the+sky+woman+jd+moyer

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER: FLAME TREE PRESS is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launching in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.

About the author:

J.D. Moyer lives in Oakland, California, with his wife, daughter, and mystery-breed dog. He writes science fiction, produces electronic music in two groups (Jondi & Spesh and Momu), runs a record label (Loöq Records), and blogs at jdmoyer.com. His previous occupations include dolphin cognition researcher, martial arts instructor, Renaissance Faire actor, dance music event promoter, and database application developer.

J.D. has been reading and writing science fiction and fantasy since he was a boy, inspired by authors such as Susan Cooper, Piers Anthony, and Lloyd Alexander. As an adult his favorite authors include William Gibson, Octavia Butler, Iain Banks, Kim Stanley Robinson, Margaret Atwood, and David Mitchell.

J.D. went to Berkeley High (other alumni include Philip K. Dick and Ursula K. Le Guin) and the University of California at Davis. After graduating, J.D. embarked on a long career as a music producer, DJ, label runner, and event promoter, culminating in world tours and music placement in film, television, and videogames (including Dance Dance Revolution) as well as the international hit “We Are Connected” made famous by John Digweed. After the birth of his daughter, he quit the DJ hustle and returned to his love of fiction writing.

His short stories have appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Strange Horizons, The InterGalactic Medicine Show, Cosmic Roots And Eldritch Shores, and Compelling Science Fiction. His story “The Icelandic Cure” won the 2016 Omnidawn Fabulist Fiction contest. Recurring themes in his fiction include genetic engineering, the sociological effects of climate change, virtualized consciousness, and evolutionary divergence.

Website : http://www.jdmoyer.com/

Twitter: @johndavidmoyer

#BlogTour #Review : Attend by West Camel. @west_camel @OrendaBooks #Attend

Blurb: When Sam falls in love with Deptford thug Derek, and Anne’s best friend Kathleen takes her own life, they discover they are linked not just by a world of drugs and revenge; they also share the friendship of the uncanny and enigmatic Deborah.
Seamstress, sailor, story-teller and self-proclaimed centenarian immortal, Deborah slowly reveals to Anne and Sam her improbable, fantastical life, a history of hidden Deptford and ultimately the solution to their crises.

My Review: I fell in love with this book through the cover, it’s so simple but having read the book the cover fits it perfectly.

I struggled with this book at first. It took time for me to get into it. I was enjoying it but I couldn’t work out where it was going or how all of the threads connected. However, it soon became clear that that was less important than I initially thought. The sections with Deborah were almost ethereal in nature, I was transfixed by her storytelling and then slowly began to se the threads of the story weaving together.

This is a story that takes you on a journey. It shows you how interconnected people’s lives can be but also makes you question your own and how you connect to family and friends, and to the world itself. All of us are threads in the tapestry of time and this story demonstrated that beautifully. Nothing is ever smooth sailing, even the best of plans can end up tangled and messy but that is what life is and if you unravel it, then what do you have? A plain piece of string with no meaning or context, until someone weaves it into another story.

This is a beautiful, captivating story that will stay with me long after this review is published. Completely unique and unforgettable.

About the author:

Born and bred in south London – and not the Somerset village with which he shares a name – West Camel worked as an editor in higher education and business before turning his attention to the arts and publishing.

He has worked as a book and arts journalist, and was editor at Dalkey Archive Press, where he edited the Best European Fiction 2015 anthology, before moving to new press Orenda Books just after its launch. He currently combines his
work as editor at Orenda Books with writing and editing a wide range of material for various arts organisations, including ghost-
writing a New-Adult novel and editing The Riveter magazine for the European Literature Network. He has also written several short scripts, which have been produced in London’s fringe theatres,

A highly anticipated debut, blending the magical realism of Angela Carter
and the gritty authenticity of Eastenders and was longlisted for the Old Vic’s 12 playwrights project. Attend is his first novel.

#BlogTour #Review : Kosmos by Adrian Laing. @FlameTreePress #RandomThingsTours

Today I’m on the blog tour for Kosmos, an unusual but thoroughly enjoyable book. Many thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours and FlameTree Press for having me on this tour.

BLURB: Rookie barrister George Winsome, young and arrogant, defends an old boy who thinks he’s Merlin on a manslaughter charge. The riotous trial turns Merlin into a celebrity; money, greed and ambition take hold of George and his partner Heather until the secret of Merlin’s past is revealed as the spirit of Saint Yves intervenes to ensure George and Heather follow their true paths.
‘Kosmos’ is a modern-day jury trial, a feel-good love story and a spiritual journey involving Saint Yves, Nemesis and Merlin.

Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kosmos-Fiction-Without-Frontiers-Adrian/dp/1787580512/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1543332815&sr=1-1

My Review: This is quite an unusual read and therefore tricky to review. It mainly concerns Merlin and George and Merlin’s court case so there is a lot of legal and courtroom scenes in it. This took me a little while to get into but once I did the story whizzed along. Some of the courtroom scenes and the scenes with Merlin were quite funny and the whole book had a feeling of quirkiness to it, which I enjoyed. Regardless of whether you believe there could be someone named Merlin alive today, having also been alive hundreds of years ago is irrelevant. The story draws you in, skeptical or not, and works its magic on you. I use the word magic here very specifically because something happens during that book. I don’t know what it is but I know when I finished reading I felt a lovely sense of calm which is not how I normally feel at the end of a book.

The characterisation is brilliant, I particularly liked Merlin and George. George was almost pompous to start with but develops over the course of the book into someone I liked and enjoyed reading about. Merlin was himself the whole way through, he had a lovely naivety of current culture and behaviours and was a fascinating character.

A large part of the story is the court case which is written in such a way that it is informative but not stuffy and dry. This part of the book was written in such a way that it flowed well despite the fact that court procedure had to be followed correctly and therefore there were legal terminology and processes to be included.

This is a story which takes you from people who are focused on what they can achieve and how they can do better in their own lives to people who wonder who they can make other people’s lives better. As the book cover says, it is a story of love and redemption and a funny and enjoyable one as well. Definitely worth a try if you want something different and something that will make you wonder what you would have done, if you were George.

About the author:

Adrian Laing was born in Harlow, Essex in 1958 and was educated at Hillhead High School, Glasgow and Exeter University where he studied law, graduating in 1978. Adrian was called to the bar (Inner Temple) in 1979, aged 21. Following a sabbatical in Paris studying with Michel Foucault at the College de France, Adrian undertook a pupillage in chambers and was made a Tenant (2 Pump Court, Inner Temple) practicing at the criminal bar defending and prosecuting in jury trials for seven years.

Leaving the criminal bar in 1987 to pursue more commercial interests, Adrian worked as the Assistant Head of Licensing at the ITC during the Channel 3 franchise process and then as a full-time consultant to the Chief Executive of Thames Television (Richard Dunn), following which Adrian was appointed the Senior Broadcasting Lawyer for the Leeds-based firm of solicitors, Hammond Suddards working in the city of London.

In 1994 Adrian was selected to become the first in-house lawyer at the Murdoch-owned publishing house, HarperCollins, where he held the position of Director of Legal Affairs and Company Secretary till 2001 working with some of the leading authors and agents of the day.

Adrian qualified as a solicitor in 2003 and set up his own legal practice (Laing & Co) for over 10 years acting for a wide range of prestigious business clients and authors. Adrian presented or chaired a leading seminar for The London Book Fair 2003 to 2012.

Adrian Laing is the co-author with his wife (Deborah Fosbrook) of three leading law titles published by Bloomsbury Professional, the author of R.D. Laing: A Life a widely acclaimed biography of his late father, the Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing, and a novel, Rehab Blues.

Adrian has appeared on radio and television many times most notably the BBC documentary ‘Just Another Sinner’ and Saturday Live with James Runchie.

Adrian now lives in Eastbourne, East Sussex.

FLAME TREE PRESS is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launching in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.