The Continuity Girl by Patrick Kincaid #BookReview #BlogTour (@patrickkincaid) @unbounders @annecater #RandomThingsTours #ContinuityGirl

The Continuity Girl Cover

“1969. Hollywood descends on a tiny Scottish village for the making of Billy Wilder’s most ambitious picture yet: a sprawling epic detailing The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. But the formidable director and his crew soon come into conflict with Jim Outhwaite, a young scientist seeking evidence for monsters.

2014. Stuck just a short walk from the East London street where she grew up, ambitious Film Studies lecturer Gemma MacDonald is restless and hungry for change. A job offer in the Highlands seems to offer escape – but only at a cost to her relationships with family and an equally ambitious American boyfriend. Then a lost print of Gemma’s favourite film turns up, and with it, an idea…

Two stories, separated by 45 years, are set on collision course – on the surface of Loch Ness, under the shadow of a castle – by the reappearance of the continuity girl herself: April Bloom.”

Today is my turn on the blog tour for The Continuity Girl by Patrick Kincaid. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for my place on the tour and to Unbound and the author for my copy of the book which, I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I knew I was going to adore this book the minute I saw the cover and read the blurb because everything about it just appeals to that side of me that loves a quirky, off-beat story and unusual characters. So I was preparing myself for disappointment, as I had such high hopes, but I need not have bothered; this book fulfilled all that it promised and more.

The plot essentially covers two stories, set 45 years apart, that ultimately converge in one of those unlikely acts of serendipity which we all wish would happen to us in real life when we see them as plot devices in novels. The central characters are two strong, individual women struggling to make the right decisions for their future, and one traditional, uptight and confused young man torn between what he knows and is used to, and what is being offered to him by a more liberal and open society and a chance meeting with a beautiful and liberated young American.

There is so much to draw the reader in in this book. Let’s start with the plot. In London in 2014, a lecturer in Film Studies is excited to be involved in the discovery and restoration of the lost scenes from Billy Wilder’s The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, her favourite movie, at the same time as wrestling with a decision about her future which forces her to choose between what she feels she ought to do to please other people and what she really wants for herself. At the same time, we are taken back to the filming of the same movie at Loch Ness in 1969, when Jim Outhwaite, a marine biologist involved with studying the phenomena in Loch Ness, becomes entangled with the film crew in a way he neither wanted nor expected and which forces him to make tough choices about his own future in a world that is on the cusp of change, that change comforting him in the very realm form of the film’s Californian continuity girl, April Bloom.

I had not heard of this film before I picked up the book but I did do a little background research before I started it, as the book is based firmly on real events and people, obviously with a little poetic licence thrown in. It is one of those tales where fact is stranger than fiction and I was completely captivated by the story of the making of the film and the events in Scotland and how the author has cleverly woven them in to a charming, eccentric and humorous story which really bring the events to life and take us to the heart of them. There are some really funny moments (when they take the model monster out on to the loch for the first time being my favourite) and some poignant ones, it is a really lovely balance for the reader and it made me really keen to find out which events and characters were real and which were not, as the author joins them so seamlessly, it is impossible to tell from the narrative.

Next are the characters, and they are genuinely fabulous. Really well drawn and totally alive within the pages, I was with them from the beginning. Jim, the uptight male scientist back in 1969, was my particular favourite. He starts out so po-faced and stodgy that you wonder why April is attracted to him in the first place but a different side of him emerges as he blossoms under April’s friendship but you can still see the very real tussle going on internally between what he wants and his fear of the unknown. In fact, all the characters’ internal conflicts are so believable that they really worm their way under your skin until your heart is breaking along with their or you feel their elation. This is all I ever ask from a book but it is very hard to achieve and the author has done a masterful job here.

The setting itself is one of the highlights of the book. I am very familiar with the Scottish Highlands and Loch Ness and the author really captured the essence of it here, so it was a lovely way to revisit a beloved location. The disjointed feeling caused by the placing of a glamorous film crew in this remote location cleverly mirrors the disruption that the exotic and free-thinking April causes in Jim’s ordered existence and the ripples of this are then felt all the way through to the modern day with Gemma’s ambiguous attitude towards the remastering of her beloved movie along with everything happening in her private life. The theme of impermanence runs strongly through the book, the need to embrace change to grow as individuals and the constant contradictions within all of us which cause us so much angst are considered and really give the book a depth and relevance that endeared it to me even more, and this is mirrored in the landscape itself and its inhabitants and how all are forced to change and adapt over the years to survive. There is also a lot of emphasis on lack of communication and the pain and misunderstanding that arises when people don’t talk to each other honestly and instead allow incorrect assumptions to decide their fate. This is a theme to which we can all relate I am sure.

This book is a gentle story, beautifully written with warm but complex characters, rich themes, enticing plot, gorgeously-drawn landscapes and oodles of delights to draw you in. Any book containing a pet pine marten named Autolycus has to be worth a read, surely. I loved it and it will definitely find a permanent place in my library to be revisited in future. I’m not lending you my copy though, because it’s signed so you’ll have to get your own.

Unbound has produced some really original and fascinating books so far and they are fast becoming one of my favourite publishers for stories that draw you in, make you think and offer you something extraordinary and I consider myself very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to review for them this year. Long may it continue.

The Continuity Girl is out now and you can acquire a copy here.

Make sure you check out the rest of the posts on the tour by following the blog listed below:

FINAL Continuity Girl Blog Tour Poster

About the Author

Patrick Kincaid Author Picture

Like April in the novel, Patrick is an Anglo-American. He was born to an English mother in Amarillo, Texas, but moved to the UK when his American father was stationed in Oxfordshire with the USAF in the mid-1970s. Unlike his older brother, Patrick was sent to a local rather than a base school, and very quickly went native. He eventually gained a PhD in English Literature at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon. For the past 14 years, he has taught English to secondary school children in an inner-city comprehensive in Coventry.

Long a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, Patrick contributed one of his own, ‘The Doll and His Maker’, to MX Publishing’s SHERLOCK’S HOME: THE EMPTY HOUSE, an anthology of pastiches put together to raise funds for the preservation of one of the author’s former homes. As well as writing fiction, Patrick is a keen poet. He was short-listed for the Bridport Poetry Prize in 2012 and long-listed for the Fish Poetry Prize in 2013.

Connect with Patrick:

Facebook: Patrick Kincaid

Twitter: @patrickkincaid

Goodreads: Patrick Kincaid

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Blood Ribbon by Roger Bray #BookReview #BlogTour (@rogerbray22) @annecater #RandomThingsTours #BloodRibbon

Blood Ribbon Cover

“When Brooke Adams is found battered, bleeding, and barely conscious, the police are at a loss as to who her attacker is or why she was targeted. Then, PI Rod Morgan turns up convinced that Brooke’s attack is the latest in a string of unsolved disappearances dating back thirty-five years. The police, however, aren’t convinced, leaving Brooke and Rod to investigate the cases themselves. As secrets from the past start unravelling it becomes a maze, deeper, darker, and far more sinister than either of them could have imagined. Will they find Brooke’s attacker before he strikes again, or will that one secret stay buried forever?”

Happy to be taking my turn on the tour today for Blood Ribbon by Roger Bray. My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for my invitation and to the author for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Can I just say how much I love the cover of this book? It is really striking and brilliantly encapsulates the story. So clever, might be one of my favourites for this genre.

This is a really solid thriller that has a gripping and disturbing premise at its heart that I won’t say too much about as it’s not hinted at in the blurb and I don’t want to give anything away, but it has a historical and psychological basis that is revealed throughout the book in a way that will keep you turning the pages until the very end.

The main character is Brooke, a young student who survives an attack on her which looks like it may be the latest in a string of historical crimes in the same area. Brooke is a very strong and determined person and, when the police don’t seem to be getting anywhere in investigating her crime due to lack of evidence, she teams up with a retired detective and PI with a theory about the crime, to try and track down her attacker herself. Whether or not this is a wise decision, you will have to read the book to find out.

The book is set on the coast of Oregon, which was great as I love any book set in the USA, especially those areas which are away from the normal settings we would visit as international tourists. The author does a good job of bringing the setting to life, and making it important to the plot. I would have liked even more description of the area, but I think that’s probably a personal preference because I can’t get enough of getting lost in the scenery of America, there will probably be the perfect amount for most readers who want to be able to imagine the place where the action is taking place in their mind’s eye but not be bogged down by description.

One of the major strengths of this book is the relationships the author creates between Brooke and her friends. Brooke has an unusual family situation, and the important relationships in this book are unconventional but no less meaningful for that, per haps more so even. Her history and the way her close relationships have been built makes those relationships, and the threat to them by the antagonist in the book, even more poignant and important to the reader when creating peril. It is extremely well crafted and, for me, is what really carried the book and made me so invested in it that I had to race to the end. The author also is not afraid to make some hard choices about who to imperil, which I admire and makes a huge difference in these sort of books and to your heart rate when you are reading as you realise, no one is safe.

If I had to point out a tiny negative, there were some points near the beginning where there was a little too much exposition that could have lost me if the author had not set up the character of Brooke so strongly from the start so that I was already invested in discovering her story. However, this was a flaw only noticeable in some very early chapters of the book and seemed to abate very quickly and did not appear later on and it was a very tiny issue that could easily be overcome by a further edit. It did not detract from my enjoyment of this book at all.

I really, really enjoyed this book. It was very original and riveting and I read it in only two sittings over the course of 24 hours. My iPad ran out of charge with only 20 pages to go which made me scream with frustration because we were at the tense denouement at this point and I was desperate to know how it ended. This a fabulous addition to the thriller genre, I am so glad that I got the opportunity to discover this author and I can’t wait to go back and read his previous work. I recommended picking up this book as soon as possible if you are looking for an engrossing read.

Blood Ribbon is out now and is available to buy here.

To follow the rest of the tour, check out the links to the other fantastic blogs taking part below:

Final Blood Ribbon Blog Tour poster

About the Author

Roger Bray Author Pic

I have always loved writing; putting words onto a page and bringing characters to life. I can almost feel myself becoming immersed into their lives, living with their fears and triumphs. Thus, my writing process becomes an endless series of questions. What would she or he do, how would they react, is this in keeping with their character? Strange as it sounds, I don’t like leaving characters in cliffhanging situations without giving them an ending, whichever way it develops.
My life to date is what compels me to seek a just outcome, the good will overcome and the bad will be punished. More though, I tend to see my characters as everyday people in extraordinary circumstances, but in which we may all find our selves if the planets align wrongly or for whatever reason you might consider.

Of course, most novels are autobiographical in some way. You must draw on your own experiences of life and from events you have experienced to get the inspiration. My life has been an endless adventure. Serving in the Navy, fighting in wars, serving as a Police officer and the experiences each one of those have brought have all drawn me to this point, but it was a downside to my police service that was the catalyst for my writing.

Medically retired after being seriously injured while protecting a woman in a domestic violence situation I then experienced the other side of life. Depression and rejection. Giving truth to the oft said saying that when one door closes another opens I pulled myself up and enrolled in college gaining bachelor and master degrees, for my own development rather than any professional need. The process of learning, of getting words down onto the page again relit my passion for writing in a way that I hadn’t felt since high school.

So here we are, two books published and another on track.

Where it will take me I have no idea but I am going to enjoy getting there and if my writing can bring some small pleasure into people’s lives along the way, then I consider that I will have succeeded in life.

Connect with Roger:


Facebook: Roger Bray

Twitter: @rogerbray22

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Crack Apple and Pop by Saira Viola #SpotlightPost #BlogBlitz #BlogTour (@sairaviola) @F13Noir @fahrenheitpress @damppebbles #CrackAppleAndPop #damppebblesblogtours

crack apple and pop

“Tony is a handsome young boxer forced into a life of crime after suffering a vicious blow in the ring.

Seduced by the glitz and glamour of London and mentored by charismatic gang lord Don March he rises rapidly up the crime ladder until he spies an opportunity to start a semi-legit Natural Highs business.

Bankrolled by an eccentric British dandy and accompanied by a cast of starry misfits including a 3ft tall blue-haired money man, an Etonian drug mule, two dominatrix debt collectors, a dodgy lawyer and a host of demi-celebs, Tony carves out a roll for himself in a city where money creates its’ own morality.

All seems to be going well until in the shadows, a Bollywood mobster threatens to derail their plans.

Chaos ensues, of course it does – wonderful, beautiful, visceral chaos.

The deft wit of Hammett meets the vivid poetics of Chandler: Crack Apple and Pop is slick smart and razor sharp. A gritty and sometimes metafictive slice of London noir.

A city of artful dodgers, yardie gangsters, kinky aristos, cocaine dusted starlets and social thrill seekers where everyone’s hustling and everyone’s getting high.

Whether it’s law, finance, the music biz, or the boxing ring: money is king. And only the ones prepared to risk everything will survive…”

Delighted to be on the blog tour today, shining a spotlight on this intriguing looking novel. Hasn’t it got a fabulous cover – such a great spin on Magritte – don’t you just love it? My thanks to Emma Welton at damp pebbles blog tours for my place on the tour and to Fahrenheit 13 and Fahrenheit Press for my copy of the book.

Crack Apple and Pop is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To get my fabulous fellow bloggers take on this book, follow the tour below:

About the Author

Saira Viola

Saira Viola is an acclaimed novelist, poet, and song lyricist. From her early poetic experimentation with language, image and sound (a technique she has dubbed sonic scatterscript) to her novelistic ventures into the dark, absurd world of contemporary crime fiction, Viola’s work pulses with iconoclastic brio that mischievously blasts the golden calves of our times. Literary Heavyweight Benjamin Zephaniah, has praised her ‘twisted beautiful imagination,’ and polymathic genius, Heathcote Williams (RIP) her ‘hypnotic explosive’, writing style. Twice Nominated for Best of The Net 2017 Pushcart Prize Nominee 2017 Rascal Magazine. Viola’s poetry collection Flowers of War debuted at the New York Poetry Festival and published by UB Press. Novels Jukebox (Fahrenheit Press) Crack Apple and Pop (Fahrenheit Press) Viola is a regular contributor to counterculture magazines Gonzo Today and International Times.

Connect with Saira:


Facebook: Saira Viola

Twitter: @sairaviola

Goodreads: @sairaviola

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The False Men by Mhairead MacLeod #BookReview #BlogTour (@MacLeodMhairead) @ThunderPointLtd @LoveBooksGroup #TheFalseMen #LoveBooksGroupTours


“North Uist, Outer Hebrides, 1848

Jess MacKay has led a privileged life as the daughter of a local landowner, sheltered from the harsher aspects of life. Courted by the eligible Patrick Cooper, the Laird’s new commissioner, Jess’s future is mapped out, until Lachlan Macdonald arrives on North Uist, amid rumours of forced evictions on islands just to the south.

As the uncompromising brutality of the Clearances reaches the islands, and Jess sees her friends ripped from their homes, she must decide where her heart, and her loyalties, truly lie.

Set against the evocative backdrop of the Hebrides and inspired by a true story, The False Men is a compelling tale of love in a turbulent past that resonates with the upheavals of the modern world.”

Delighted to be taking part today in the blog tour for The False Men by Mhairead MacLeod. My thanks to Kelly Lacey at Love Books Group Tours for my place of the tour and to the publisher for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I spent most of my holidays as a child in Scotland and it has left me with an abiding love of the country and a fascination with its history, which is colourful and brutal, so I was very excited to read this book which is set against the backdrop of probably the most shameful part of Scottish history, the Highland Clearances. If anyone is not familiar with the atrocities committed against the farmers and crofters of the Highlands and Islands at this time, this book will give you a compelling insight into what went on.

The heroine of the book is Jess, the privileged daughter of the factor on North Uist, an island of the west coast of Scotland. The factors were gentlemen appointed by the Laird to manage their estates in a particular area and collect rents from his tenants. Although Jess is the factor’s daughter, she is very friendly with her maid, Catherine, and Catherine’s family who are crofters so, when the Clearances come to North Uist, she is in a unique position to see the situation from both sides and is horrified by what is happening. She tries to intervene, putting her on the wrong side of the society which she is part of.

Jess is a wonderful character to carry this book. Brave and opinionated, she is very much a woman ahead of her time, which sets her against the norms of the day and puts her at odds with her friends and family which makes for great tension and conflict in the book. From our enlightened position 170 years into the future, our sympathies are entirely with Jess as she rages at the injustices being done to her fellow man and her own weak and powerless position as a woman, and basically a chattel, at that time.

The author brings the history and landscape of Scotland during this period vividly to life with beautiful descriptions and we are transported right to the heart of the islands and Highlands and the struggle and conflict. The book is absolutely riveting and had my pulse racing and my heart in my mouth and kept me reading late into the night. I could not help but become emotionally involved in the story and feel everything that Jess was going through. As a living history lesson, this book is masterful. The author makes the speech of the time sound authentic without being a pastiche which is very hard to do.

I loved the author’s style of writing and voice, with the right amount of description to bring the book to life but no so much that slowed the pace. The history lesson is given in a subtle and insidious way without feeling dry and lecturing, it is extremely skilfully done and this book is a great picture of this part of history which will hold anyone who has the slightest interest in learning about Scotland’s past and a policy of brutality against people which changed the face of Scotland forever and continues to have ramifications for the country to the present.

I loved this book and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for an intelligent but gripping read.

The False Men is out now and you can purchase a copy here.

Follow the rest of the bloggers on the tour:


About the Author

M MacLeod author photo

Mhairead MacLeod was born in Inverness, Scotland and spent her early childhood on the Isle of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides.

She now lives in Brisbane, Australia where she worked as an ethics lawyer, investigator and university lecturer. She holds Masters degrees in both Law and in Creative Writing.

An earlier draft of The False Men was short-listed for a HarperCollins Varuna Award for Manuscript Development and also won a Hachette Manuscript Development Award.

Connect with Mhairead:


Facebook: Mhairead MacLeod

Twitter: @MacleodMhairead

Instagram: @mhairead_macleod_author

The Cottage on Lily Pond Lane – Part Four: Trick or Treat #BookReview #BlogTour (@emilyharvale) @RaRaResources #RaRaResources #LilyPondLane #TrickOrTreat

Trick or Treat

It’s here at last, the final part of Emily Harvale’s latest four part serialisation, The Cottage on Lily Pond Lane – Part Four: Trick or Treat. You can read my reviews of Part One: New Beginnings, Part Two: Summer Secrets and Part Three: Autumn Leaves by following the links. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources and to Emily for allowing me to complete my journey with this book by having me back on the tour. I have reviewed my copy of the book honestly and impartially.

Lily Pond Lane Trick or treat-NEW-VAL-DAVID-3 JULY

“Mia Ward was amazed to inherit her great-aunt Matilda’s thatched cottage in the tiny seaside village of Little Pondale – especially as Mia didn’t know she had a great-aunt Matilda. She was even more astonished to discover she’d only inherit the place if she lives there for a year. 

But a lot can happen in a very short time, and life in Little Pondale is not going quite as Mia hoped. She may have finally beaten one fear, but now heartbreak threatens to drown her.

And when at last, she starts to unravel the mystery of Matilda’s past, she uncovers an extraordinary plan for her own future. Now just who can Mia trust? 

As the nights draw in and cold winds steal through Sunbeam Cottage, she turns to an unlikely source for comfort and support. But with the fortune teller’s warning still ringing in her ears, is Mia about to make the biggest mistake of her life?”

I was very excited to reach the final part of Emily’s enchanting series, given how much I have enjoyed the previous parts and it did not disappoint at all.

Mia seems to have grown a pair in this final instalment, which I was very glad to see, and finally takes her love life in her own and hands and goes all out to grab what she wants.

We find out all of Aunt Mattie’s secrets at last with the aid of dashing newcomer to the book, Gill, who turns out to be a lovely character and suitable foil for Mia’s friend Ella.

Hettie gets her happy ending, as does Mia’s Mum Lori whose relationship with her hot cowboy tomboy is flourishing – heartening news for those middle-aged singletons who like to see a book that reflects the fact life is not over after 30.

The mystery of who has been sending the threatening messages and trying to drum Mia out of the village is solved and we find out who is to inherit under the codicil. Then it’s ciders all round at the happy conclusion of all the angst, broken hearts, mysteries and mayhem, just as you’d expect in a book of this kind and it is none the worse for it.

This part is a delightful as everything that has gone before and the ending is fun and surprising. The good guys get happy endings, the bad guys get their just desserts and the reader gets a sweet and satisfying conclusion to a lovely, warm series. I only wish the village I lived in was as lively as Little Pondale! I’ve really enjoyed this series and look forward to more from Emily.

The Cottage on Lily Pond Lane – Part Four: Trick or Treat is out now and you can buy a copy here. I think I am also allowed to mention the exciting news that Christmas on Lily Pond Lane is now available for pre-order Here and I will be reviewing this on the blog on 2 October, which will be only 84 days before Christmas!

To follow the rest of the blog tour for this book, check out the blog tour dates below:

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About the Author

EPSON scanner image

Having lived and worked in London for several years, Emily returned to her home town of Hastings where she now spends her days writing… and chatting on social media. Emily is a Member of the SoA, a PAN member of the RWA and a Pro Member of ALLi. She’s an Amazon bestseller and a Kindle All Star. Emily loves writing and her stories are sure to bring a smile to your face and a warmth to your heart.
Emily says, “I write about friendship, family and falling in love. I believe in happing endings.” When she isn’t writing, she can be found enjoying the stunning East Sussex coast and countryside, or in a wine bar with friends, discussing life, love and the latest TV shows. Chocolate cake is often eaten. She dislikes housework almost as much as she dislikes anchovies – and will do anything to avoid both.

Connect with Emily:


Facebook: Emily Harvale Writer

Twitter: @emilyharvale

Instagram: @emilyharvale

The Wife Before Me by Laura Elliot #BookReview (@Elliot_Laura) @Bookouture #NetGalley #TheWifeBeforeMe


“One evening as the sun is setting, Amelia Madison’s car slides into the sea off Mason’s Pier. Her body is never found.

Two years later, Elena Langdon meets Nicholas Madison. She is grieving the loss of her mother, he is grieving for his wife. Together they can help each other.

Now Elena is living with Nicholas. But Elena doesn’t really know him. She doesn’t know what he is capable of.

And she doesn’t know what really happened to Amelia.

Until the day she discovers the torn page of a letter and the words she reads chill her to the bone. 

Elena must find the person who wrote these letters if she is to save herself.”

This is a real rollercoaster of a ride told by the voices of two women involved with the same man. Elena meets Nicholas at her mother’s funeral when she is grieving and vulnerable and falls in love with him. Over a time, a darker side of his personality is revealed and Elena begins to wonder what really happened to Nicholas’s first wife, Amelia, who disappeared four years previously.

The second voice in the book is that of Amelia, and the truth about her relationship is slowly revealed over time. Only as Elena discovers what really happened to Amelia can she find a way to save herself.

There is also a mysterious third voice in the narrative that adds a shocking twist to the story.

This book grabs you in an emotional vice from the first page and doesn’t let go until the heart-stopping last page. I was so involved in the story that I forgot where I was and raced through the book, desperate to know what happened next but afraid to turn the page because parts of it were so emotionally horrifying that I almost could not bear to look.

The characters is this book are deeply polarising. Some you will be frantically rooting for, some you will despise with every ounce of your being (Yvonne, urgh). They are cleverly drawn so that you can’t help but be drawn in and involved in their stories. you will be despairing of it ever turning out right, conflicted about some of the characters and frantic to get to the end, what more can you ask for from a psychological thriller?

Some parts of the book are shocking and hard to read and no doubt will be triggering for people who have suffered domestic abuse. The book takes a slightly surreal turn towards the end and I was not at expecting what happened, which is the aim of the writer but I suspect some people may possibly take issue with one of the plot devices involved. For me, it worked really well and I was left feeling shaken and shivery but satisfied. Any book that moves you in this way is a read to be recommended. This is a great addition to the genre.

The Wife Before Me is out today and you can buy a copy here.

My thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

About the Author


Laura Elliot has written six novels which have been widely translated. Under the pseudonym June Considine, she has written twelve books for children and young adults. She has also worked as a journalist and magazine editor.

She is a full-time writer, living in Dublin, Ireland, where she lives with her husband, Sean. After serving on the Board of the Irish Writers Centre, she established WORD, a group that connects professional writers. She is also one of the founder members of the Freedom to Write Campaign, which advocates on behalf of imprisoned writers around the world.

Connect with Laura:


Facebook: Laura Elliot Author

Twitter: @Elliot_Laura

Goodreads: Laura Elliot

The Glass Diplomat by S. R. Wilsher #BookReview #BlogTour (@srwilsher) @RaRaResources #RaRaResources #TheGlassDiplomat

The Glass Diplomat

I have been looking forward to taking part in this blog tour ever since I first heard about this book, so I am delighted to be taking my turn today on the blog tour for The Glass Diplomat by S. R. Wilsher. Huge thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation to the tour and to the author for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

The Glass Diplomat - E book Cover Final

“In 1973 Chile, as General Augusto Pinochet seizes power, thirteen-year-old English schoolboy Charlie Norton watches his father walk into the night and never return. Taken in by diplomat, Tomas Abrego, his life becomes intricately linked to the family. 

Despite his love for the Abrego sisters, he’s unable to prevent Maria falling under the spell of a left-wing revolutionary, or Sophia from marrying the right-wing Minister of Justice.

His connection to the family is complicated by the growing impression that Tomas Abrego was somehow involved in his father’s disappearance.

As the conflict of a family divided by politics comes to a head on the night of the 1989 student riots, Charlie has to act to save the sisters from an enemy they cannot see.”

This book is an extraordinarily powerful novel about power, life, love, loss and revenge set against the backdrop of atrocities perpetrated by the Pinochet regime in Chile from 1973 onwards.

It opens with a heart-stopping scene set in 1989, which sets the tone for the whole book and makes the reader realise that there are going to be some events in the novel that are hard to stomach, then flips back to 1973 and the disappearance of Charlie’s father which is the catalyst for everything that happens afterwards. We are introduced to the powerful Tomas Abrego and his family who are Charlie’s link to Chile – one he will revisit repeatedly through the years and to whom he is inextricably connected in a myriad of complex ways.

There are so many interesting and thought-provoking themes running through the book. Naivete is a big one. The naivete of Charlie and the Abrego sisters as they meet in their youth and become friends, unaware of the tensions between their parents. The naivete of Charlie in his early days as a journalist reporting on events in Chile, believing that as a journalist and a Westerner, he is somehow separate from and protected against the atrocities being committed by the regime he is exposing; and how the characters have their illusions exposed – sometimes brutally – over time.

The book explores the complex nature of relationships and how we can be torn apart by conflicting emotions. How bonds formed early in life can remain strong and have a stranglehold on us, even in the face of compelling opposing forces and against our better judgement and how it can be very hard to battle against them, even while we strive to prove we are dispassionate or they run contrary to other emotions in us. However, hard we try to step outside ourselves and remain impartial, we are all human in the end.

The background of the political upheaval in Chile and the atrocities that occurred at that time are fascinating and appalling. It is a period of history I knew a little, but not much, about before I started reading but it is beautifully interwoven into the book in a way that made me want to explore more about the period. Having a deeper picture of what went on made me angry and so extremely sad. You can’t help be moved by this book, particularly as the characters are so beautifully drawn and the novel so well-plotted that you become quickly invested in what is going on, which makes it all the more painful and shocking.

To begin with, I found some of the prose a little dense and convoluted for my tastes; I had to concentrate very hard at times to follow the course of the over-long sentences that slowed the pace at the beginning. I eventually got past this and settled in to the authors’ style of writing and this would be my only minor criticism

This book is a stunning piece of political fiction and I would highly recommend it to anyone curious about this period of South American political upheaval.

The Glass Diplomat is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To get a different perspective on the book from my fabulous fellow bloggers on the tour, you can find the details of the other stops below:

The Glass Diplomat Full Tour Banner

About the Author

The Glass Diplomat - Author Pic

It didn’t occur to me to write until I was twenty-two, prompted by reading a disappointing book by an author I’d previously liked. I wrote thirty pages of a story I abandoned because it didn’t work on any level. I moved on to a thriller about lost treasure in Central America; which I finished, but never showed to anyone. Two more went the way of the first, and I forgave the author.

After that I became more interested in people-centric stories. I also decided I needed to get some help with my writing, and studied for a degree with the OU. I chose Psychology partly because it was an easier sell to my family than Creative Writing. But mainly because it suited the changing tastes of my writing. When I look back, so many of my choices have been about my writing. 

I’ve been writing all my adult life, but nine years ago I had a kidney transplant which interrupted my career, to everyone’s relief. It did mean my output increased, and I developed a work plan that sees me with two projects on the go at any one time. Although that has taken a hit in recent months as I’m currently renovating a house and getting to know my very new granddaughter.

I write for no other reason than I enjoy it deeply. I like the challenge of making a story work. I get a thrill from tinkering with the structure, of creating characters that I care about, and of manipulating a plot that unravels unpredictably, yet logically. I like to write myself into a corner and then see how I can escape. To me, writing is a puzzle I like to spend my time trying to solve. 

Connect with the author:


Twitter: @srwilsher

Goodreads: S. R. Wilsher

Murder at Hawthorn Cottage (A Melissa Craig Cosy Mystery Book 1) by Betty Rowlands #BookReview (@BettyRowlandsFP) @Bookouture #cosycrime #NetGalley #MurderAtHawthornCottage #MelissaCraigCosyMystery


“Meet Melissa: cat lover, caring mother… daring detective? 

Melissa Craig is absolutely delighted with her new life in an old crumbling cottage, spending her days pruning the primroses and getting to know Binkie, the ginger cat next door. She only wishes she had made the move to the countryside sooner.

But when a knock at the door brings news of a shocking discovery, she suddenly finds herself thrown in to the middle of a baffling mystery: the bones of a young woman have been found in the woods just behind her new home.

Perhaps the little village of Upper Bembury is not as idyllic as it first seemed? 

Strange phone calls in the night convince Melissa that the police are barking up completely the wrong tree, so she can’t resist doing a little digging of her own. From the bingo hall to the beauty salon and beyond, her search ruffles a few feathers and uncovers many of the village’s most scandalous secrets, but gets her no closer to finding the culprit…

The discovery of a tatty old photograph in a drawer is the final piece of the puzzle she needs, but as a newcomer in this close-knit community, does Melissa have what it takes to get to the bottom of this extraordinary murder mystery alone?”

I wanted to have this review up yesterday, which was publication day for this book, but events overtook me so my apologies for that, but better late than never! This is the first in a planned re-publication by Bookouture of all twelve Melissa Craig mysteries by Betty Rowlands and, having read this one, I am very much looking forward to catching up with the rest of the series. This book was previously published as A Little Gentle Sleuthing.

Melissa Craig is a forty-something writer of crime fiction who moves from London for a quieter life a sleepy Cotswold village and to escape an unsatisfactory relationship. However, in the way of cosy crime novels. she soon finds that the village is not as sleepy as it seems and the discovery of a dead body in the local woods by Melissa’s neighbour stirs up a hornet’s nest of intrigue in which Melissa is soon embroiled, in the grand tradition of a Miss Marple or Jessica Fletcher.

This book is delightful. Melissa is a very warm and likeable character with just the right acerbic edge to give the story a bit of bite and make you buy into the fact she gets up to all kinds of derring do that are not naturally befitting introverted author types. The author gives her a variety of fascinating sidekicks including her artistic and slightly eccentric neighbour who plays devil’s advocate to Melissa’s wilder ideas and a young, idealistic reporter from the local paper who eggs her on and provides the useful source of pertinent information through his contacts. I really liked the fact that she is getting her support and information from a reporter rather than a police contact, it was a nice spin on the usual trope and allowed free rein for some unorthodox and possibly illegal investigative manoeuvres.

The plot has plenty of twists and turns and is predictably unlikely but extremely entertaining as it takes in the local vicar, a strip club and beauty salon. The author has a great line in gentle humour to keep the writing light and easy to read and I was engrossed from start to finish. I did feel that the plot sped up a little too much at the end and the crime was solved in a bit of a confused and rapid jumble that could have done with being drawn out slightly longer to make more sense but we got a satisfying conclusion in the end and at this point I was so in love with the characters and the setting that I forgave the author this and was ready to leap in to the next one.

A great book for fans of Agatha Christie and M. C. Beaton and lovely addition to the cosy crime canon.

Murder at Hawthorn Cottage is out now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author


Betty Rowlands burst on to the crime scene by winning the Sunday Express / Veuve Clicquot Crime Short Story of the Year Competition. Her success continued with her highly acclaimed Melissa Craig mysteries. She is an active member of the Crime Writers’ Association and regularly gives talks and readings and serves on panels in crime writing conventions.

Connect with Betty:


Facebook: Fans of Betty Rowlands

Twitter: @BettyRowlandsFP

Goodreads: Betty Rowlands

The Benevolent Dictator by Tom Trott #BookReview #BlogTour (@tjtrott) @RaRaResources #TheBenevolentDictator

The Benevolent Dictator

After a week of crime and suspense I am happy to be featuring something a little different on the blog today as I take part in the blog tour for The Benevolent Dictator by Tom Trott. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation to the tour and the author for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.


“Ben longs to be prime minister one day. But with no political connections, he is about to crash out of a Masters degree with no future ahead. So when by chance he becomes fast friends with a young Arab prince, and is offered a job in his government, he jumps at the chance to get on the political ladder.

Amal dreads the throne. And with Ben’s help he wants to reform his country, steering it onto a path towards democracy. But with the king’s health failing, revolutionaries in the streets, and terrorism threatening everyone, the country is ready to tear itself apart.

Alone in a hostile land, Ben must help Amal weigh what is best against what is right, making decisions that will risk his country, his family, and his life.”

Where to start with my review of this wonderful book, there is so much going on, so much to talk about, so much food for thought packed in to a relatively short but complex novella.

This is the story of two idealistic young men, well-educated, well-intentioned and full of ambition to make the world a better place. One is Ben, a British graduate whose aim is to become Prime Minister. The other is Amal, the second son of a Middle Eastern ruler who longs to bring Western values to his homeland. They meet by chance at university and, on finding common ground, become friends. Then, suddenly, Amal’s life is turned upside down when his older brother is killed in a car accident and he suddenly become heir to his ailing father’s throne. Looking for an ally, he asks Ben to move to his country to act as his advisor.

This is the story of a fish out of water. A young idealistic man transplanted to an alien environment that he does not understand. He cannot speak the language, does not share the religion, has no knowledge of its history or politics and finds their customs and laws barbaric. He is viewing it all through the eye of a Westerner with the arrogance to assume that the civilisation he is used to is the correct one and should be brought to these people, whether they want or are ready for it or not.

This is the story about destiny. About a young man destined to be the second son. The one educated in the West and destined to be a minor player in the government of his country, free to hold certain ideals safe in the knowledge that he will not be in a position to implement them who, by a seeming twist of fate, is suddenly thrust in to a position where he is forced to make a choice between what he thought he believed and the actuality of implementing those ideals and steering the country from the path carved out by his ancestors. We will discover whether he has the strength to see those ideals through, or whether reality differs from theory.

This is a story about disillusionment. About the disappointment when one realises that the principles we hold dear don’t hold up in every scenario. When our belief in ourselves is ripped aside and our inadequacies laid bare when we are put to the test. When we realised what we thought was true is not and that we are powerless to change what we thought we could so easily influence.

These two young men, so certain in their beliefs in the safety and warmth of the academic environment, find that out in the real world, things are never so simple. They are faced with thousands of years of history, societal, cultural and familial pressures, economic realities and the political manoeuvering that they have not enough experience to deal with. They are out of their depth. It is a fascinating study of the intricacies of political decision-making that few of us actually consider when arguing the toss about what goes on in governments of foreign countries.

Above all, this is the story of hubris. The hubris of the young, thinking they know it all and can succeed where everyone else has failed. The hubris of the West in thinking that their way is the only acceptable way and that by imposing their ideals on other nations, they are always making life better for the people of those countries. Recent history has shown us this is not necessarily true. The hubris of the rulers of hereditary monarchies assuming that they have the right to rule for this reason alone and that nothing is going to change the status quo.

This book sounds like it might be heavy going, but it really is not. The author brilliantly wraps up all of the above themes in a story that is entertaining and compelling and very easy to read. The two main characters are both likeable and easy to relate to. The setting is vividly drawn and you are taken right to the heart of this alien society, in the same way that Ben is. There is gripping element of intrigue that carries the reader through to the end, which I found shocking and upsetting. The book left me saddened and disturbed and with a huge amount to think about.

I loved the use of phrases from Ozymandias by Shelley (one of my favourite poems of all time) as chapter headings, underlining the theme of hubris and the ultimate fallibility of all dynasties in the end. If you haven’t read this poem, take a look before you read the book. It is a moving and powerful piece of writing, as is this novel.

Ultimately, The Benevolent Dictator is one of those books that you will be delighted to have discovered. It is a pleasure to read and offers so much to the reader in return for the time invested. Probably one of my favourite reads of the year.

The Benevolent Dictator is out now and you can purchase a copy here.

To follow the rest of the dates, check out the dates below:

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About the Author:

TBD - MePromoCollege5

Tom Trott was born in Brighton. He first started writing at Junior School, where he and a group of friends devised and performed comedy plays for school assemblies, much to the amusement of their fellow pupils. Since leaving school and growing up to be a big boy, he has written a short comedy play that was performed at the Theatre Royal Brighton in May 2014 as part of the Brighton Festival; he has written Daye’s Work, a television pilot for the local Brighton channel, and he has won the Empire Award (thriller category) in the 2015 New York Screenplay Contest. He is the proverbial Brighton rock, and currently lives in the city with his wife.

Connect with Tom:


Facebook: Tom Trott Books

Twitter: @tjtrott

Goodreads: Tom Trott


Stitch Up by William McIntyre #BookReview #BlogTour (@Best_Defence) @SandstonePress #StitchUp #TartanNoir

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Excited to be taking part in the blog tour today for Stitch Up by William McIntyre. My thanks to Ceris Jones at Sandstone Press for inviting me on to the tour and for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.


“Everything is coming up roses for Robbie Munro, newly married and living in the country with wife and child. That is until his wife takes up employment abroad just as old flame, Jill Green, asks him to investigate the unexplained death of her partner.

Suspecting foul play, Jill insists Robbie turns poacher to gamekeeper and does whatever it takes to find the killer with no expense spared. Another killer on the loose is child-murderer Ricky Hertz, whose twenty-year-old conviction is under scrutiny.

Was the evidence at his trial fabricated? Suspicion falls on Robbie’s father who now faces a criminal prosecution. The only way to prove ex-Police Sergeant Alex Munro’s innocence is for Robbie to show there was no miscarriage of justice.

I was really excited to be asked to review this book as I particularly enjoy fiction with a legal element, given my background in law and I have to say I was not disappointed. Although this is the ninth book in the Best Defence series, it is the first one I have read but it will definitely not be the last.

The main character in the book, Robbie Munro, is a criminal lawyer just like the author and McIntyre’s background knowledge really shines through in the writing and makes the book feel very authentic (although I’m not sure most real lawyers would go as far as he done in the pursuit of the truth). I really enjoyed the legal spin on the traditional crime thriller, it gave an interesting and unusual perspective that was refreshing.

The characters in this book are entertaining and, on the most part, very likeable and I was drawn through the book very easily, my interest held from page to page. Robbie’s personal life features quite heavily, particularly as his father is the subject of one of the two story lines, and I really enjoyed this aspect, particularly the appearances of his daughter, who is a feisty six-year-old with a lot of opinions she is not afraid to express. It gave the book a lightness amongst the tension which was very enjoyable.

As indicated above, there are two plots running along side by side. One is the re-opening of an old case involving Robbie’s father which he gets involved in in the hopes of keeping his father from jail. The other is a recent death that he is invited to investigate by his ex-fiance. The dual story lines were both well-plotted and intriguing and kept the book interesting and moving forward. There were plenty of twists and turns to propel the book forwards and I did not see most of them coming, the writing is very clever. I really enjoyed the whole tone of the book, it was very easy to get engrossed in.

The book is set in Linlithgow, not a place I know well, and I really loved the flavour of Scotland infused throughout. Tartan Noir is a big trend at the moment and this book is a welcome addition to the genre.

I would highly recommend this book and I will definitely be going back to read the previous books in the series.

Stitch Up is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour and find out what my fabulous fellow bloggers think of the book, see the details below:

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About the Author


William McIntyre is a lawyer involved in criminal defence work for so long that he can remember when the Scots Criminal Justice System was regarded as the best in the world, the days when it was ‘better that ten guilty men go free than one innocent man be convicted.’

Stitch Up is William McIntyre’s fourth Best Defence Mystery published by Sandstone Press.

Connect with William:


Facebook: The Best Defence Series

Twitter: @Best_Defence

Goodreads: William H S McIntyre