Thursday, 23 November 2017

Publication Day Blast! 5* review - Helen Phifer Dying Breath

Take a breath. Pray it’s not your last.

Just a few months after a terrifying case that nearly took her life, Detective Lucy Harwin is back with her squad in the coastal town of Brooklyn Bay – and this time, she’s faced with a case more horrifying than anything she’s encountered.

Along with her partner, Detective Mattie Jackson, Lucy is investigating what appears to be a vicious but isolated murder; a woman found bludgeoned to death on a lonely patch of wasteland. 

But when a second victim is discovered strangled in an alleyway, then a young family shot in their own home, Lucy and the team must face the unthinkable reality - a killer is walking the streets of their quiet coastal town. 

While Lucy and the team try to find the link between these seemingly unconnected murders, they uncover a disturbing truth – these murders are replicating those carried out by infamous serial killers. 

Lucy must get to the killer before he strikes again. But he’s got his sights on her, and is getting ever closer… Can she save herself, before she becomes the final piece in his twisted game?


I loved Dark House (previously The Lost Children) by Helen Phifer, a change from her supernatural thrillers to gritty serial killing murder, and was thrilled to find that Detective Lucy Harwin would be back for more.

The action begins thick and fast with the brutal murder of a woman, told from the killer's point of view (the dual narrative is something I love about these books, an insight into the killer's mind) and Lucy and her team know quickly that this is no ordinary murder as the bodies begin to mount up - even a historical case is thrown into the mix as a skeleton is also discovered. Poor Lucy, these things always happen to her!

The murders are all very different, not showing the clear MO of a 'normal' serial killer, it seems this one is taking a very different, calculated and gruesome path, and later in the book it becomes clear why - which in my mind was one of the best and cleverest parts of the plot. But as normal it takes the team down a very winding path - and an extremely dangerous one for Lucy as things get personal. 

The twists and turns are awesome and unexpected, I thought I'd nailed the killer quite early in the book (I was so proud of myself, however,  I couldn't have been more wrong). I love the dynamics and interaction of the team and how they all gel, the mark of a very good writer. I love all the characters, and truly respect Helen's skill of writing kick ass female protagonists. 

The books moves quickly and really keeps you turning the pages, especially once you're in the killer's mind, and all culminates in an explosive ending that made my heart beat especially fast!

Another series from Helen that leaves you wanting more. Another fantastic 5* read.

About Helen:

Helen Phifer lives in a small town called Barrow-in-Furness with her husband and five children.

Helen has always loved writing and reading. Her love of horror films and novels is legendary. Helen adores reading books which make the hair on the back of her neck stand on end. Unable to find enough scary stories to read she decided to write her own. 

Helen’s debut novel 'The Ghost House' was published by Carina UK in October 2013 and went on to become a best seller along with the rest of the Annie Graham series. The Secrets of the Shadows, The Forgotten Cottage, The Lake House, The Girls in the Woods and The Face Behind the Mask.

The Good Sisters is a standalone horror story which will scare the pants off you or so her lovely readers have told her. It scared Helen when she was writing it so she pretty much agrees with them.

March 2017 saw the release of psychological thriller Dark House (previously called The Lost Children), book 1 in the Detective Inspector Lucy Harwin series. 
Author Social Media Links:

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Blog tour: Q&A with author Rita Bradshaw

Today I'm excited to welcome Rita Bradshaw to help celebrate the launch of her latest historical tale, A Winter Love Song.

Here's what Rita had to say about her writing experiences...

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What is your favourite period of history to write about? 

A.    My favourite period of history is the first half of the 20th century. There was so much social change which created a wealth of characters who were larger than life. Women were demanding to be heard in the corridors of power; WW1 and the Depression brought strong men and women to the fore, and then WW2 changed Britain for ever. Those fifty years were hard and tough and a fight for the working class in particular, but my word did people have guts!

If you could travel back in time, which of your books would you like to visit?

A.    All of them for a number of different reasons but probably A WINTER LOVE SONG encapsulates three distinct areas of fascination for me – the English countryside before motorways and modern living ruined much of it; the beginnings of radio and television and rapidly evolving city life, and WW2.

Where did you find the inspiration for A Winter Love Song?

A.    I have so many stories in my head I couldn’t pin down where they begin, but the travelling fair community that my heroine springs from was so different to the modern-day ones that I wanted to explore that.

Which places do you like to visit when researching a new novel?

A.       Britain has changed so radically over in the last 120 years that much of my research comes from books, museum archives, libraries, old ordinance survey maps etc, with visits to specific locations to get a lie of the land now and again.

What advice would you give your younger writing self?

A.       My advice to my younger writing self would be the same I’d give to any young writers – write about what you love, not what you think might sell because your passion and interest in your chosen genre will come through on the written page.

What is the best money you've ever spent as a writer?

A.       The best use of any money I receive is always that spent on my beautiful children and grandchildren and my furry babies, along with the animal wildlife hospital I support.

Do you carefully plan your novels or prefer to see where the characters take you?

A.       I always begin a story with a brief synopsis but that invariably takes twists and turns as the characters evolve and demand their own say in the novel.

 Huge thanks to Rita for this Q&A, it's been wonderful to learn more about her books and writing. 

A Winter Love Song by Rita Bradshaw is out now, published by Pan Macmillan.

Rita Bradshaw was born in Northamptonshire, where she lives today. At the age of sixteen she met her husband - whom she considers her soul mate - and they have two daughters and a son, and several grandchildren. To her delight, Rita's first novel was accepted for publication and she has gone on to write many more successful novels since, including the number one bestseller Dancing in the Moonlight. " " " "As a committed Christian and passionate animal lover her life is full, but she loves walking her dogs, reading, eating out and visiting the cinema and theatre, as well as being involved in her church and animal welfare.

Follow the tour!

Monday, 6 November 2017

Blog tour: Review - Christmas at Wooloworths by Elaine Everest

Even though there was a war on, the Woolworths girls brought Christmas cheer to their customers

Best friends Sarah, Maisie and Freda are brought together by their jobs at Woolworths. With their loved ones away on the front line, their bonds of friendship strengthen each day. Betty Billington is the manager at Woolworths, and a rock for the girls, having given up on love . . . Until a mysterious stranger turns up one day – could he reignite a spark in Betty?

As the year draws to a close, and Christmas approaches, the girls must rely on each other to navigate the dark days that lie ahead . . .

With so much change, can their friendship survive the war?

How exciting to be back at Woolworths at Christmas! I loved Elaine Everest's The Woolworths Girls, it conjured up such happy memories of the store and this was such a special book to join this wonderful series.

The prologue was troubling as we see Freda working as an auxiliary in the fire service and racing to Canterbury, where she finds out her friends from the Erith Woolworths have been injured. That leaves us on tenterhooks as we delve back into the story of the friends and their community.

Mystery is afoot as there is a stranger watching Betty Billington, and love, friendships and emotion runs high as the war takes Kent deeper within its grips.

It was lovely to catch back up with their lives and stories, and it did not take long to take me back to where we were in the last book. This really is a beautiful festive read which will conjure up vivid images, and leave you uplifted and filled with fighting spirit, camaraderie and Christmas cheer.

Another wonderful read from Ms. Everest.

Title: Christmas at Woolworths
Author: Elaine Everest
Genre: Chick-Lit
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Format: Paperback
Release Date: 2nd November 2017

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Blog tour - The House by Simon Lelic

Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it.
So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake.
Because someone has just been murdered outside their back door.

Firstly, The House is incredibly difficult to review as I'm so conscious of dropping any spoilers! But I'll try...
This book is narrated by couple, Jack and Sydney who have bought their dream house (a character in itself) after years of saving. The house initially seems perfect, but unfortunately comes with contents from the previous owner and they are left with what to do with it. Something they can ignore until Jack makes a macabre find in the loft - and there is a murder right outside their back door.

The House is an utterly creepy, complex and sinister read. The perfect choice for this time of year - but don't say I didn't warn you when you're sleeping with the lights on! Initially I was thinking, is this a crime thriller, or a ghost story? and it took a while to become clear.
It's extremely well written with he said/she said joint narration, but I did find it slightly confusing at times. Could be down to how fast I was turning the pages and my resting heart rate at the time! It does help give an insight into the couple's relationship but I was weary of an unreliable narrator which stopped me trusting entirely in each character. For me personally I find it detracts a little from the story, but it really is just my preference and don't let it put you off and it's well worth the read!
The ending was very well played and Lelic showed he really is one to watch in this genre.

ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Annie Hollands.

Monday, 2 October 2017

5* Review - Cold Blood by Robert Bryndza

She fell in love with a killer, now she’s one too.

The suitcase was badly rusted, and took Erika several attempts, but it yielded and sagged open as she unzipped it. Nothing could prepare her for what she would find inside…

When a battered suitcase containing the dismembered body of a young man washes up on the shore of the river Thames, Detective Erika Foster is shocked. She’s worked on some terrifying cases but never seen anything like this before. 

As Erika and her team set to work, she makes the link with another victim – the body of a young woman dumped in an identical suitcase two weeks ago. 

Erika quickly realises she’s on the trail of a serial killer who’s already made their next move. Yet just as Erika starts to make headway with the investigation, she is the victim of a brutal attack. 

But nothing will stop Erika. As the body count rises, the twin daughters of her colleague Commander Marsh are abducted, and the stakes are higher than ever before. Can Erika save the lives of two innocent children before it’s too late? She’s running out of time and about to make a disturbing discovery…there’s more than one killer

I LOVE Robert Bryndza and his Erika Foster crime series, they are all totally addictive and in my opinion just get better as they go along. 

Cold Blood is particularly chilling and gruesome, when a body washes up on the banks of the Thames in a suitcase, and Erika puts two and two together she realises that it's linked to another body which has been discovered in similar circumstances, and quickly it seems they're on the hunt for another serial killer.

I loved the Nina and Max chapters and was fascinated by this macabre and controlling relationship, desperate for Nina to find her strength and rise up against Max. 

I love how in the DCI Foster series we get to know the team and their relationships, I was however very disappointed in Peterson and expect him to behave far better in the next book! 

A definite must read for crime fans, it is a series but totally possible as a standalone, it will leave you wanting to go back in the series though!

Many thanks to Bookouture for providing an advanced copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Friday, 22 September 2017

Blog tour - The Secrets You Keep by Kate White

You’ve lost your memory. A woman has been murdered. Your husband is keeping secrets. How do you know who to trust?

Months after a being involved in a terrible car crash, Bryn Harper is physically healed but her emotional scars remain raw. She has no memory of the accident and is plagued with bad dreams.
When Bryn and her husband, Guy, host a dinner party Bryn swears money has been stolen while Guy seems unfazed. Bryn confronts the caterer that night and is horrified to discover the woman’s brutally slain body the next day.
As the case is investigated, Bryn is dragged into a fresh nightmare and learns that Guy is keeping things from her. Another murder occurs and Bryn realises the danger is getting ever closer to home. How well does Bryn really know the man she loves?
For fans of psychological suspense and compulsive mysteries, don’t miss this tense and page-turning novel. Before I Go to Sleep meets The Husband’s Secret.

Author, Bryn Harper, has relocated from New York to Saratoga Springs where her husband is working for the summer. She is recovering from a car accident in which her companion died, and has no memory of what happened or why she was really in the car with him. She's fragile and vulnerable, she is unable to write and finding herself plagued by a crippling fatigue.
Bryn finds the body of a woman with whom she had had an altercation, who had been brutally murdered and the circumstances are looking strange to outsiders. It sparks a chain of events that leave Bryn wondering who around her she can really trust, all the time being haunted by recurring dreams of what happened before the fatal crash. She feels she's so close to finding answers that are a fingertip away. She wonders if this is what someone is scared of as it's soon plain that someone is out to get her.

I adored this fast paced thriller. I found myself racing to turn the pages, and the usual 'just one more chapter' mantra kicked in.
I loved White's style of writing, the characters and the settings. She has a real knack for keeping the reader guessing, and I had various theories of what I thought was happening - I was wrong on all counts.
The ending was perfect - it was all tied up nicely. Especially when Bryn finally got to the bottom of the crash, her demons were finally slayed.
I can't say too much more without giving anything away - but I would urge anyone who likes this genre to give it a try. It had me hooked from the start.

Follow the rest of the tour...

About the author...

Kate White is the New York Times bestselling author of twelve works of fiction: seven Bailey Weggins mysteries and five stand-alone psychological thrillers, including most recently, The Secrets You Keep. For fourteen years she was the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, and though she loved the job (and the Cosmo beauty closet!), she decided to leave in late 2013 to concentrate on being a full-time author and speaker.

Website: Kate White 

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Review: The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry

Prepare to fall in love with beautiful village of Burley Bridge.

Growing up in a quiet Yorkshire village, Roxanne couldn’t wait to escape and find her place in the world in London. As a high-powered fashion editor she lives a glamorous life of perennial singlehood – or so it seems to her sister Della. But when Roxanne gets her heart broken by a fashion photographer, she runs away, back to Della’s welcoming home above her bookshop in Burley Bridge.
But Burley Bridge, Roxanne discovers, is even quieter than she remembered. There’s nothing to do, so Roxanne agrees to walk Della’s dog Stanley. It’s on these walks that Roxanne makes a startling discovery: the people who live in Burley Bridge are, well, just people – different from the fashion set she’s used to, but kind and even interesting. Michael, a widower trying to make a go of a small bakery, particularly so. Little by little, cupcake by cupcake, Roxanne and Michael fall into a comforting friendship.
Could there be a life for Roxanne after all, in the place she’s spent 46 years trying to escape?

Roxanne Cartwright, fashion editor for a glossy London magazine appears to have a perfect life. If you fancy single(ish), child free and living in central London mixing with glamorous models and styling dazzling fashion shoots (you may guess this was once my dream...) but changes being implemented within the magazine by a know-nothing editor start to crumble Roxanne's perfect job and make her seek refuge with older sister, Della, who runs a cook book shop in her home town of Burley Bridge in rural Yorkshire. Somewhere that Roxanne had been trying to run from all her adult life.

We first met Roxanne, but mainly Della, in Berry's first book (one of my favourites, Fiona Gibson writes under Ellen Berry for these Burley Bridge novels). We didn't get to know too much about Roxanne but she did come across a bit selfish and caught up in her glamorous London life to help Della when their mother died. I must admit I wasn't keen on her character when we met her in The Little Bookshop on Rosemary Lane, but getting to know her properly I really did like her in this book.

So with her sabbatical in the country well underway she begins slowly to reacquaint herself with the village and the natives, and begins to realise they're not all Cath Kidston wellies and pots of homemade jam (although IMHO nothing is wrong with either of these), and friendships begin to blossom.

Her relationship slightly cool - on/off boyfriend Sean (a bit of a creep) plays on her mind a lot while in Burley, she knows something is amiss but still tries her hardest to make it work, so keeps the lovely Michael from the quaint and gorgeous sounding bakery at arms length when it's clear they both like each other, and the friendship that is sparked between Roxanne and Michael's teenage daughter, Ella is charming and probably my favourite aspect of the book.

The book itself is beautiful, the writing superb and the descriptions charming, how I'd love to live in Burley Bridge, I quite fancy opening up my own boutique there, or perhaps a chocolate shop? Anyway, I did love the book but it fell slightly away from getting 5* as I would have liked it to have been a little bit more about the bakery - which really did play quite a small part? I seemed to be waiting throughout a lot of the story, then realised by 90% it wasn't coming. But don't let this put you off unless you want a blow-by-blow account of how many cream horns Michael sells throughout the week, because it really is a lovely, charming, witty and well written book. I'd love to see, and am sure there will be, another Burley Bridge outing to come.

Review copy provided via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Review - The Man I Thought You Were by Leah Mercer

One fine autumn evening, Anna returns from work and starts making dinner, eager to welcome home her husband, Mark. It’s just like any other day in their ten-year, Pinterest-perfect marriage—until he says he’s leaving her.
Discovering that the man she thought she knew better than anyone else is capable of abandoning it all sends Anna reeling. She believed the life they’d built together—and the bright future they’d imagined—counted for everything. How can he walk away?
The truth is Mark is battling secrets of his own—secrets Anna knows nothing about. A painful past and an uncertain future threaten to bring his life down around him—and he’ll do anything not to expose her to that.
But unravelling the past is lonelier than Mark could ever have imagined and, as the days turn to months, Anna worries the separation will break them forever. Can she bring him back from the brink of self-destruction before it’s too late, or will she discover that she never really knew him at all?

Mark comes home and drops the biggest bombshell of Anna's life upon her - he's leaving. He doesn't want any more contact with her and their 10 year marriage is over. Poor Anna had just caramelised her onions to perfection, as well.

It took Anna a few days and many stages of grief to accept what was going on, that Mark really had upped and left. I was annoyed with Mark at this point, they had a perfect marriage, a beautiful home and he'd abandoned them - I thought for another woman or a life of crime. How wrong I was!

It turns out, well, I'm not going to say because 'spoiler alert!', but he's doing it to save her. To prevent her having to go through the most painful time in his past. He hopes that she'll just forget about him and move on, hoping that hating him would make it easier for her.

He just wanted to do one last thing for her, to find someone important from his past, someone who he feels he abandoned himself.

This book was really sad. Well written and thought out, but sad. It didn't depress me though like The Fault in our Stars or Me Before You kind of sad, the ending was rewarding in it's own way, and it doesn't leave you feeling totally bereft, but it's not light reading. It is though, rewarding reading. I loved the way that the parts of Mark's past came together in the end.

I was frustrated in parts, but all credit to Mercer, that's the testimony of a good writer when people are shouting at your characters, it shows you've developed that relationship with them.

It's definitely a curl-up-on-the-sofa-with-a-hot-chocolate, autumnal kind of read.

I received an advance copy in exchange for an honest review via Netgalley

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

5* review - Good Friday by Lynda La Plante


Every legend has a beginning . . . 

During 1974 and 1975 the IRA subjected London to a terrifying bombing campaign. In one day alone, they planted seven bombs at locations across central London. Some were defused - some were not. 

Jane Tennison is now a fully-fledged detective. On the way to court one morning, Jane passes through Covent Garden Underground station and is caught up in a bomb blast that leaves several people dead, and many horribly injured. Jane is a key witness, but is adamant that she can't identify the bomber. When a photograph appears in the newspapers, showing Jane assisting the injured at the scene, it puts her and her family at risk from IRA retaliation. 

'Good Friday' is the eagerly awaited date of the annual formal CID dinner, due to take place at St Ermin's Hotel. Hundreds of detectives and their wives will be there. It's the perfect target. As Jane arrives for the evening, she realises that she recognises the parking attendant as the bomber from Covent Garden. Can she convince her senior officers in time, or will another bomb destroy London's entire detective force? 

It is 1975 and Jane Tennison is a detective with the police force, she faces discrimination (at levels we hopefully do not see in these ages?!), and she wants to move on to the more glamorous Flying Squad which she is told is extremely unlikely and is offered the less glamorous Dip squad.

After initial reservations she is quickly thrown into a terrifying situation when a bomb is detonated near to her in Covent Garden tube station causing destruction, fatalities and mass chaos. It set at the time when the IRA were active and fear was widespread.

Jane is unfortunately a witness, identified in the press and therefore in great danger.

She is naive and makes some dubious decisions which do not help her cause to further her career within the highly male dominated force, until she inadvertently makes a major breakthrough which could save the lives of many of her colleagues.

I really enjoyed this book, it is the first of the Jane Tennison books I've read and now I'm itching to read the rest.

It was new to me as I was not born until the very late 70s and I found it interesting reading this time period - it felt strange that people were relying on calling landlines and not sending text messages and emails!

I liked the dynamics amongst the team, and I really enjoyed Jane's character. I did feel like shouting at her a few times when her naivety nearly got her into very deep trouble!

I would highly recommend this fast paced page turner. It has left me eager to read more!

Many thanks to Annabelle at edpr for providing an advance copy in exchange for an honest review

Good Friday by Lynda La Plante is out now, published by Bonnier Zaffre in hardback. RRP £18.99.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

The Trouble With Words by Suzie Tullett - Blog Tour

Annabel is desperate to have a baby – there’s just one problem. She’s single and after losing her husband in a hit and run accident, she’s just not ready for another relationship. 
Dan is on the hunt for the perfect woman but when his mother drops a bombshell, he starts to feel the pressure.
When Dan and Annabel’s worlds collide, both start to think that maybe they’ve found the solution to their problems. But things are about to get messy.
Can Dan and Annabel get what they want?

The story opens with Annabel breaking the news to her husband that is going to have a baby.
It's not the most conventional as it's at his graveside, and he's, well, dead. And another problem she has is at that moment she has not found someone to be the father.

I really felt for her as soon as I began reading and was drawn instantly to her character.

As the story progresses we meet Dan and his mum Gerry. She is desperate for Dan to find himself a wife and she needs to be sure it's the right woman for him, she has plenty of candidates lined up!

Dan and Annabel seem perfect for each other - if only they would realise it! With both of them having their own trials that seem more important than the dating game, things seem that they will pass them by, until fate intervenes...

There are some really sad, properly tear jerking moments throughout the book, all beautifully written and sincere enough to make you think you are in the room with the characters, to offset this there are plenty of laugh out loud moments to lighten the mood along the way.

The ending was poignant, satisfying and well written, as was the whole book. I find Tullett a master of writing believable dialogue that is read in your mind just as you would hear someone speaking it. The characters are well developed and seem to really grow in strength throughout the story, Gerry being my favourite - she definitely deserves Fictional Mother of the Year!

Congratulations to Tullett on providing another well written, perfectly researched and entertaining tale.

Many thanks to Bombshell Books for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author:

Suzie Tullett is an author of contemporary humorous fiction and romantic comedy. She has a Masters Degree in Television & Radio Scriptwriting and worked as a scriptwriter before becoming a full-time novelist. Her motto is to 'live, laugh, love' and when she's not busy creating her own literary masterpieces, she usually has her head in someone else's.
Suzie lives in a tiny hamlet in the middle of the French countryside, along with her husband and two Greek rescue dogs.

Twitter @SuzieTullett

My website Suzie Tullett
Instagram suzie_tullett