Death on the River by Clare Chase #BookReview #BlogBlitz (@ClareChase) @bookouture #DeathOnTheRiver #NetGalley

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“Meet Tara Thorpe – she’s Cambridge Police’s newest recruit… but her dark past is never far behind her. 

When a body is pulled from the dank and dangerous fens on the outskirts of town, everybody assumes it was a tragic accident. But Detective Tara Thorpe, newly joined and determined to prove herself, suspects there’s more to the story.

Tara is desperate to investigate further, but her supervisor Patrick Wilkins has other ideas. He would rather die than let this ambitious upstart show him up – even if it means some digging in Tara’s secret past to keep her under his thumb. After all, it’s not like he can report her – everyone knows that his boss Detective Garstin Blake and Tara have a history…

When another body is found, it becomes clear that there’s a killer on the loose. Could the murders be linked to the secrets that Tara has been keeping from her team… and can she solve the case before another innocent dies?”

Given how much I loved Clare’s first book featuring Tara Thorpe, Murder on the Marshes (read my review of that book here), I am thrilled to be taking part today in the blog tour for the next in the series, Death on the River. My huge thanks to Noelle Holten, of publishers Bookouture, for inviting me on to the tour and for my copy of the book via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly.

I just want to pass comment and give my congratulations on another stonking cover which really evokes the spirit of the Cambridgeshire fens and the setting of the book. People say, you should never judge a book by its cover, but I am afraid I often do and this is another one I would love to have on my shelves. I love Bookouture books, they always feel lovely and solid in your hand – you know you are holding a piece of quality, nothing something flimsy. Mad, I know, but these things matter to a book lover!

Although this is the second book in the Tara Thorpe series, it could easily be read as a standalone without losing anything of the plot. Clare gives you enough of the back story for you to understand what you need to without it feeling like an information dump. However, I would highly recommend you read the first book to get deeper background on the characters and also because it is just so damn good, you will be missing out if you don’t!

The second book starts four years after the end of the first. In the interim, Tara has left her journalism career behind and has retrained as a police officer, newly joining the CID unit who investigated the crimes in book one, which brings her back into the orbit of DI Blake and other characters from the first book. I’ll admit, I was a little disappointed to hear that Tara was no longer a journalist, as I thought that brought a unique perspective to the investigation in book one. However, I need not have worried as Tara has brought all her journalistic skills to her new role in the police and this gives rise to an interesting aspect of the book where her old skills both compliment and clash with her new job. Her insatiable curiosity and dogged determination to get to the bottom of events being both  help and a hindrance.

There are so many different aspects of this book that I really enjoyed, the criminal investigation being only one of them. The mystery is very well-crafted from the dramatic opening scene to the eventual denouement, it is sufficiently tricky to keep the reader guessing and hold our attention throughout. The pace of the story is not frantic but even and compelling and I was totally engrossed in the investigation, even though the first victim is not a particularly likeable character. There were lots of interesting details to the crime – I was left wondering where the author gets her ideas from!

An equally riveting aspect of the book was the relationships between Tara and her fellow officers, particularly Blake and Wilkins. Anyone who has read the first book will recall that it appeared there was a possible relationship developing between Tara and DI Blake, and I was pleased to note that vestiges of this had carried through to this book, leaving a residual tension between the two. The author cleverly uses this as a plot device to influence the professional relationship between the two, as we wonder whether Blake’s decisions to back Tara are due to his professional respect for her, or his personal feelings. I love the fact that there is an open will they, won’t they question left hanging.

Wilkins is a different kettle of fish altogether and the man becomes more and more unpleasant as the book progresses. His dislike and, possible jealousy and resentment towards Tara grows and grows to the point where it is impacting on his objectivity and decision-making and he is in danger of putting his own career at risk. It is always good to have a character you love to hate in a book!

The book is written largely from Tara’s perspective and, as a protagonist, she continues to grow on me as she remains independent, determined and feisty and true to her own values, no matter what is thrown at her. I love a strong, female role model in a book, and this one certainly knows who she is and what she stands for.

The final thing which really makes this book stand out in the genre for me is the setting. It is as much a character in the book as any of the people and plays a big part in the stories. The plot simply would not work as well anywhere else and, just as in book one, the suppressing, empty isolation and loneliness of the Fens adds so much to the atmosphere of the story, and is brilliantly and vividly brought to life by the writing.

For some reason, this series has really grabbed me and I really look forward to reading more. Another paperback is on its way to add to the shelf for repeat enjoyment.

Death on the River is out now and you can buy your copy here.

Please do support the rest of the blog blitz for this book by following it over to the other blogs listed below:

Death on the River - Blog Tour

About the Author

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Clare Chase writes mysteries set in her home city of Cambridge and is fascinated by the location’s contrasts and contradictions. She’s worked in diverse settings – from the 800-year-old University to one of the local prisons – and lived everywhere from the house of a Lord to a slug-infested flat. The terrace she now occupies presents a good happy medium.

As well as writing, Clare loves family time, art and architecture, cooking, and of course, reading other people’s books. She lives with her husband and teenage children, and currently works at the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Connect with Clare:

Website: https://clarechase.com

Facebook: Clare Chase Author

Twitter: @ClareChase_

Instagram: Clare Chase Author

Goodreads: Clare Chase

Oh! What A Pavlova by Isabella May #BlogBlitz #GuestPost (@IsabellaMayBks) @crookedcatbooks @RaRaResources #Giveaway

The observant among you will notice the date above was yesterday. Yes, I’m that friend that is a day late to the party! Massive apologies to Isabella for missing her big book birthday, yesterday. Isabella, I hope you had a fabulous book birthday and that you enjoy this post, even if it is a day late. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part ( a decision she is now regretting. Menopause brain is my excuse and I’m sticking to it!) and to Isabella for answering the questions for me.

“Kate Clothier is leading a double life: a successful jet-setting businesswoman to the outside world, but behind closed doors, life with Daniel and his volcanic temper is anything but rosy.

Some days – heck, make that EVERY day – cake is her only salvation.

Slowly but surely, the cities she visits – and the men she meets – help her to realise there IS a better future.

And the ley lines of Glastonbury are certainly doing their best to impart their mystical wisdom…

But will she escape before it’s too late?”

I read this book when it came out last year and thoroughly enjoyed it, although I would advise against reading it on an empty stomach! I’m always thrilled to learn more about the author’s behind the fabulous books I’ve read so, without more ado, let’s here about Isabella:

1: You evidently have a love of puddings. But have you ever actually made a Pavlova?
I am guilty as charged there! I think living in Spain has also renewed my appreciation for the vast array of Great British desserts that I have to either hunt down here in a decent expat pub (sadly those are few and far between), or recreate myself.
But yes, last year I made my very first Pavlova (I’ve made a chocolate one since as well!). This was for the Twitter Bakealong hashtag and although I didn’t win the competition, my peaks rose and my Peach and Blueberry Pavlova was eaten by most of my family.

2: What’s a typical day for you as an author?
I’ve long forgotten because it varies so much… so I will take the weekday mean, the average! First off, I try – and frequently fail because my seven-year-old has an innate ability to rise just as I do – to meditate. Just for fifteen minutes, that’s all. But inevitably, those golden moments of seeking that much sought after third eye chakra morph into me unloading the dishwasher.
But if there is one thing I never fail to accomplish, it’s drinking my morning Pink Himalayan sole (water and a little mineral salt), followed half an hour later by a bowl of coconut porridge. Don’t worry, I definitely make up for this orthorexic ritual-like behaviour later…
If it’s a school day (right now as I type we are almost midway through the 11 week Spanish summer holidays… yes, you did read that correctly: Eleven. Entire. Weeks.) then after drop off at 9am, I am usually straight back to my desk, fat cafe sombra in hand, to hit my target of 1000 words  – that’s if I am working on a new novel. I could also quite easily be editing, keeping up-to-date with my social media, eating cake or brainstorming new ideas.

In case you hadn’t guessed, I do have a tendency to go off at tangents, and I am a Cake Monster!

But normally, on a good day, I will hit that 1000 target before I have to pack up and go pick the children up for 2pm. One of the few downsides to living in Spain is the ridiculously short school days (and those super elongated holidays).
We’ll drive back from school, I’ll fix the kids lunch, sort through the bags for hidden homework (Spanish schools set a ridiculous amount from a young age, frequently making me want to flee to Denmark). Occasionally I will also come across a pilfered toy from a fellow classmate.
If I’m ‘lucky’ *read: if the children can entertain themselves and resist the temptation to argue*, I might get a nice thirty or forty minute stretch at the laptop to edit, add to a chapter, or answer my emails. Often though, I become Dance Mum – also known as Taxi Mum – a tri-weekly task that involves dropping off and picking up my daughter at the local studio… and all too frequently involves more coffee and cake! My younger son and I will take his reading books or colouring, and I will try my best not to look at my phone.
Dinner is served late here compared to the UK and once my husband is through the door just before 7pm, to take over, I will either have a session on my trampoline, jogging to high vibe music with a fabulous view of the Mediterranean sea, or I’ll carry out some Pranic Healing on my ‘guinea pigs’. I took the Levels 1, 2 and 3 last year on courses in neighbouring Gibraltar. That’s been quite life-changing!
We eat our own ‘grown up’ dinner slightly later than the children, mainly because we all have such diverse food tastes in our household and we’re all far too proud to compromise – plus us adults love our spice (in the food that is…). And then it’s a book and bed. One of the great things about Spain is we hardly ever watch English TV – and we really don’t miss it. We talk so much more in the evenings (well, book-worming aside), and I don’t think we could ever go back to the nightly lure of the box, even if we did move home.
Obviously, at the weekend we let our hair down, go out for tapas and cocktails, or treat ourselves to a fat gin and tonic on the balcony overlooking the sea!

3: Have you done much public talking about your books yet?
Shamefully, I’ve done none at all! I make up for this with Facebook Live videos for bookclubs though – as well as at my online launch parties. But yes, some events in the flesh are a must. I’m working up to it but expat writers really do need to get creative about planning these things in this part of the world as there aren’t so many opportunities as back in the UK with all of the amazing range of Lit Fests!

4: What message do you hope readers will take from Oh! What a Pavlova?
My mission with my debut novel was to ring a few alarm bells; to dispel the misconception that domestic violence always happens regularly, and to a specific demographic. It doesn’t! Sometimes a victim is walking on eggshells for weeks or months in fear of the next attack. There’s not always an ETA.
I’m not saying it’s a book that will save lives. Women and men in these situations will only ever leave when they feel ready to take that leap of faith, and no amount of family or friends (or books) trying to intervene can change that. Sadly…
But I am definitely saying it’s the book I wish I had read when I was in a toxic relationship. In that respect, it’s a book that could save lives. We need more books of Pavlova’s ilk to challenge the status quo; to help friends and family of victims to look out for the telltale signs which are all so often hidden.

5: Why do you write with a pen name?
I think many people assume it’s to protect my identity (due to the subject of my debut novel), but I promise it’s not. Isabella and May are the names of my two amazing grandmothers who passed away several years ago. I wanted to honour their feisty, independent characters. I hope I’m doing them justice!

Thanks for joining me on the blog today, Isabella, it was lovely to hear from you.

Oh! What A Pavlova is available to buy here. Now, check out the giveaway below to see how you can win a signed copy of Isabella’s second book, The Cocktail Bar.

Giveaway

To win a signed copy of The Cocktail Bar, click on the Rafflecopter link below:

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*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

About the Author

Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalucia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. When she isn’t having her cake and eating it, sampling a new cocktail on the beach, or ferrying her children to and from after school activities, she can usually be found writing. As a co-founder and a former contributing writer for the popular online women’s magazine, The Glass House Girls – www.theglasshousegirls.com – she has also been lucky enough to subject the digital world to her other favourite pastimes, travel, the Law of Attraction, and Prince (The Purple One). She has recently become a Book Fairy, and is having lots of fun with her imaginative ‘drops’! Costa del Churros is her third novel with Crooked Cat Books, following on from the hit sensations, Oh! What a Pavlova and The Cocktail Bar.

Connect with Isabella:

Website: http://www.isabellamayauthor.com/

Facebook: Isabella May Author

Twitter: @IsabellaMayBks

Instagram: @Isabella_May_Author

The Warning by Kathryn Croft #BookReview #BlogBlitz (@KatCroft) @Bookouture #NetGalley #TheWarning

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“My little boy’s room was empty, his bed neatly made. Alarm bells should have rung immediately. Then the knock on the door came. All I remember is a thick fog wrapping itself tightly around me. This couldn’t be happening to us.

Three years ago, nurse Zoe’s son Ethan was found drowned in a muddy river by their home, along with his best friend Josh. With no witnesses, their deaths were ruled a tragic accident.

Heartbroken, Zoe and her family, move away from her home. They’re just beginning to get back to some kind of normality, when, out of the blue, Zoe receives an anonymous email: 

You need to find out the truth about what happened to your son. Don’t let this rest. Don’t believe the lie.

Shaken, Zoe starts an obsessive hunt for the truth. But why is her husband so reluctant to help? And why is Josh’s mother so determined not to believe her?”

Delighted to be taking my turn on the blog blitz today for The Warning by Kathryn Croft. My thanks to Kim Nash at Bookouture for my place on the tour and my copy of the book via NetGalley which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I absolutely loved this book. There has been the odd occasion recently where I have wondered whether the psychological thriller/domestic noir trend is on the way out and whether there is anything new to be done in this vein. Then a book like this comes my way and I realise there is life in the old genre dog yet. This book really had me hooked from beginning to end.

We begin three years after the tragic accidental drowning of Zoe and Jake’s son, Ethan and his best friend, Josh. The family are trying and appearing to be getting their life back on some sort of track, having moved house and cities. However, appearances can be deceptive and when Zoe gets an email suggesting that the drowning may not have been an accident at all, it quickly becomes obvious that none of them have put the tragedy behind them and they have all been covering their grief in different ways.

Zoe is unable to let the suggestion go, and we are quickly drawn in to her quest for the truth. The author very cleverly writes the plot in short, sharp chapters from multiple viewpoints – Zoe, Jake, their other son and, Roberta, Josh’s mother – so we get an insight into the story from lots of different perspectives, but Zoe’s is the only one written in the first person, so we get very up close and personal with her reactions and emotions towards the events.

As the book unfolds, it becomes more and more clear that each character is hiding something, and the tension builds as we are forced to wonder, in the same way Zoe does, who we can trust and who is being dishonest. The plot is clever and labyrinthine and, just when you think you might have figured things out, you realised you haven’t at all and you are forced to start your investigations all over again. The ending came as a total shock, although the clues were there all along and I was left very satisfied by the whole reading experience.

The characters are all beautifully drawn and very realistic. Some really empathetic, some eminently dislikable, but all compelling, and this is the great strength of the book. I really cared about what happened to these people, I was desperate to know what happened. I was emotionally invested in the characters and the story, and they took me with them from beginning to end.

Accomplished writing.

The Warning is out now and you can purchase your copy here.

There are lots of other fabulous bloggers reviewing this book, so make sure you check out their reviews too:

The Warning - Blog Blitz

About the Author

Kathryn-Croft-author

Kathryn Croft is the bestselling author of six psychological thrillers, and to date has sold over one million copies of her books. The Girl With No Past spent over four weeks at number one in the Amazon UK chart and her other novels, Behind Closed Doors, The Stranger Within and The Girl You Lost all reached number one in the psychological thriller charts.

Her seventh psychological thriller is due to be released in October 2018. 

After six years teaching secondary school English, Kathryn now writes full time and lives in Guildford, Surrey with her husband and young family.  

Having always been an avid reader, Kathryn believes in the power of words to entertain, teach and transform lives. She is also a firm believer in following your dreams and says anything is possible if you work hard enough and never give up!

Connect with Kathryn:

Website: https://www.kathryncroft.com

Facebook: Author Kathryn Croft

Twitter: @KatCroft

Instagram: @authorkatcroft

Without Rules by Andrew Field #BookReview #BlogBlitz (@AFwithoutrules) @damppebbles #WithoutRules #damppebblesblogtours

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“When a professional hitman turns up at Candy’s World to hide, China Mackie discovers her plan to flee from her abusive father has tragically backfired. A gruesome bloodbath has left four people dead on the streets of a northern city centre on a cold wet Sunday morning. China knows she’s next to die. Unless she is more ruthless than everyone else. She must improvise fast. Seduce her father’s assassin. Plead her case so he helps her escape in a fight to the death where rules don’t matter but the consequences do.”

I’m thrilled to be one of the blogs kicking off the blog blitz today for Without Rules by Andrew Field. My thanks to Emma Welton at damp pebbles blog tours for inviting me to take part and to the author for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly.

Okay. Right. I’ve had to take a little pause and a breather and a step back to think about what I am going to say about this book before I write my review because it has me, in the words of the great AC/DC, a little thunderstruck.

(By the way, if I may digress slightly for a second, I saw this version of Thunderstruck on YouTube a couple of weeks ago which is just genius, I’ve put the video at the end of the post, if you are interested.)

Anyway, now that I have had time to digest the book, I can say that it is one of the most original, interesting, disturbing, gripping, challenging and memorable books I have read this year.

I’ll be honest, when I started it I wasn’t’t sure if I was going to enjoy it and if I’d picked it up before I started blogging, I might have put it to one side to come back to later, but reading to a deadline forces you to persevere and I am really glad I did because once I got in to it I was totally hooked right through to the end.

Looking back, I can pinpoint the issue I had at the start. I started reading this book late at night when I was quite tired, and it was a mistake because this book requires a certain degree of concentration, especially at the beginning when we are introduced to a barrage of new characters in quick succession without a huge amount of introduction as to who they are and we learn a host of startling facts about them extremely quickly. It’s an information overload, verbal machine-gunning if you will, that requires a wide awake brain to process.

Once I came back to the book in the bright light of day, I was quickly sucked in to the story. The plot is extremely fragmented, it jumps around like a demented firecracker and you have to be quick to follow it, but I don’t mind a bit of an intellectual challenge in a novel. Beats sudoku for keeping the old grey matter from atrophying.

None of the characters in this book are going to win any popularity contests. They are all fairly damaged, and many of them are downright nasty, but they are written with personality and intelligence so, likeable or not, you want to keep reading about them and hope for either their redemption or their downfall.

This book is fairly blunt and brutal. There is violence from the very beginning, very bald sexual imagery, rape, graphic murder, sexual abuse and a lot of other stuff that might trigger the more sensitive reader. The author seems unapologetic about it, which makes more sense as you read through and learn more about the characters and their past and what influences their behaviour but be warned. If this were an album it would be labelled ‘Parental Advisory.’

I would normally tell you whether or not I enjoyed this book but I’m not sure ‘enjoy’ is the word I would use here. This book smacks you in the teeth and forces you to pay attention. I was carried on the journey, through all the twists, turns, inversions and barrel rolls, right to the end. It is one I will remember and I am glad I read it. I would recommend it to people with open minds and strong constitutions.

Without Rules is out on 15 October and you can order your copy here.

Make sure you follow the rest of the blitz and see what my fellow bloggers think f the book:

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About the Author

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Andrew Field has spent most of his working life as a PR and marketing consultant helping raise the profiles of others. Now the roles are reversed as he steps into the spotlight as the author of Without Rules, a crime thriller about vulnerable people forced to do bad things to escape evil people. “Authors, by the nature of what they do, are relatively introverted. They work in isolation. Inhabit imaginary worlds of their own creation. They can spend ages staring at a computer screen bringing their characters to life. Then they have to become a different person to promote their work and market themselves. Writing is the easy part compared to the marketing, especially when crime fiction has become a very crowded marketplace.”

“From my point of view, professional PR people operate best from behind the scenes. They should never become the story otherwise you’re deflecting attention away from the messages you’re trying to communicate,” says Andrew. “The New Labour experiment, for example, was doomed the minute Tony Blair’s media guru Alistair Campbell generated his own headlines. Bragged about ‘spin’.  Believed his own hype. Ditto Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci’s 10-day tenure as the shortest-serving White House communications director in history – and his “off the record” expletive-ridden rant about his colleagues in Donald Trump’s White House.”

As a PR, Andrew memorably handled Boddingtons Bitter during its “Cream of Manchester” heyday, developing innovative sports and cultural media partnerships with newspapers and TV stations for the beer brand – but also PR’d a fashion entrepreneur who was a convicted armed bank robber and a property developer who did eighteen months prison time for blackmail. “Having a diverse range of clients keeps it interesting. They are all different but the core requirement is to be seen as a believable and trusted information source ready to take advantage of PR opportunities as and when they arise. As a novelist, you look to do exactly the same with your work and yourself.”

“The catalyst for Without Rules was a friend testifying against her father in an abuse case. Although the prosecution was successful, she can never really escape the consequences of what happened to her. She has to find a way of coping for the rest of her life while he was sentenced to two and half years.” 

Andrew says crime fiction has a duty to try and educate and as well as entertain. “The memorable books are the ones you’re still thinking about 48-hours after you finished reading.”

Andrew lives, works and plays in Manchester, England, Europe, with his partner, Catherine. He has been a trade journalist in Southampton in his youth. He owned a PR agency in the nineties and early noughties and is now an independent PR, marketing and publishing consultant looking forward to the challenge of becoming the story with the publication of Without Rules.

Connect with Andrew:

Website: http://andrewfield.info

Facebook: Andrew Field

Twitter: @AFwithoutrules

Instagram: @afnoir_

damppebbles blog tours

One Winter’s Day by Laura Briggs #BookReview #BlogBlitz (@PaperDollWrites) @bookouture #PublicationDay #OneWintersDay #NetGalley #Blogtober18

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“If only falling in love was as easy as baking a cake… 

Ama’s loved baking ever since she can remember. Desserts, cakes, cookies – anything sweet, delicious and sinful. The kitchen is the only place where she can be truly herself.

But – as she starts work on the biggest cake she has ever made – for a couple’s magical winter wedding – she realises just how much she secretly dreams of falling in love too.

Then she meets a handsome man on a motorbike who sets her pulse racing. But Ama knows it can never be. Because he’s her very traditional parents’ absolute worst nightmare… And she knows she can never let them down.

Do her family know best? Or can she trust her heart? And, as the snow begins to fall, will she ever find out what really does go into the recipe for true love?”

Happy to be taken my turn on the blog tour today for One Winter’s Day by Laura Briggs, as it is publication day. Happy Publication Day, Laura. My thanks to Noelle Holten at Bookouture for inviting me on to the tour and for my copy of the book, which I received via NetGalley and which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Before I started reading this, I was unaware that this was a follow up to a previous book featuring these characters, which I had not read and, unfortunately, it felt like a follow up. There was a lot of back story to the characters which I was unfamiliar with, and although the author tries to catch us up, this was done by way of what felt that an information dump at the beginning of the book that stopped me engaging immediately with the plot.

Once I did get in to the book, I really did enjoy the story. The characters were likeable and interesting and they had enough going on to make an interesting tale. I liked the back drop of the one-stop wedding business and there were a lot of lovely details about the wedding planning, cakes and dresses to engage the reader who likes a wedding story line. There was also just the right touch of seasonal cheer to be pleasant but not kitchsy.

I found the story line of Ama and her romantic visions contrasting with the traditional, cultural expectations of her family really enticing, but I was a bit disappointed that the romantic aspect was not better developed or resolved, since this was a romantic book. It left me a little flat.

This was a nice book, but it felt like the middle book in a trilogy – kind of hanging with no real finale. If I had read the first book, this would probably have bothered me less as the writing, setting and characters are lovely, but as it was, I was left with a mild feeling if dissatisfaction. Mea culpa for not realising I had missed the first book.

One Winter’s Day is published today and you can buy your copy here.

Make sure you check out the reviews on the rest of the tour by my fellow bloggers:

One Winter's Day - Blog Tour

About the Author

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Laura Briggs is the author of several lighthearted romance novels and novellas, including the bestselling Amazon UK series A Wedding in Cornwall. She has a fondness for vintage-style dresses (especially ones with polka dots), and reads everything from Jane Austen to modern day mysteries. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with family, caring for her pets, going to movies and plays, and trying new restaurants.

Connect with Laura:

Website: https://paperdollwrites.blogspot.com

Facebook: Laura Briggs

Twitter: @PaperDollWrites

 

Burning Secrets by Ruth Sutton #BookReview #BlogBlitz #BlogTour (@ruthsutton) @fahrenheitpress @damppebbles #BurningSecrets #damppebblestours #Blogtober18

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“It’s the spring of 2001 and Foot & Mouth disease is raging across Cumbria. 

Twelve-year-old Helen Heslop is forced to leave her family farm and move in with relatives in a nearby town because the strict quarantine means she can’t travel back and forth to school in case she inadvertently helps spread the disease.

As the authorities and the local farming communities try desperately to contain the outbreak, tensions run high and everyone’s emotions are close to the surface.

And then Helen disappears.

The police search expands all over the northwest coast where farms are barricaded and farming families have been plunged into chaos – not least the Heslop family, where potentially explosive fault lines are exposed.

Under the strain tensions build inside the police team too, where local DC Maureen Pritchard is caught between old school DI Bell and new broom DS Anna Penrose.

Will Helen survive? And can life for the Heslop family ever be the same, once burning secrets are discovered and old scores settled?”

I’m delighted today to be one of the blogs rounding of the blog blitz for Burning Secrets by Ruth Sutton. My thanks to Emma Welton at damp pebbles blog tours for inviting me to take part and to the author and publisher for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is a police procedural with a difference and the strongest part of the story for me is the dramatic backdrop of the terrible foot and mouth outbreak of 2001. The book really brings life the horrifying reality of the devastation this crisis wrought on the farming community, particularly in Cumbria where the book is set, as many farmers there barely eke out a living any way and this crisis brought many of them to breaking point. For people who know little about farming, this aspect of the book will be a real eye-opener.

As crime books go, this one is a bit of a slow burn, especially in the first half, although the tension definitely picks up in the second half. The case involves a missing girl and there is a lot of questioning and interviewing and not a huge amount of action to propel the book to begin with. I think the main problem was that I didn’t really feel that there was a lot of peril at the start, and it is the peril that really ramps up the tension in a book of this kind.

There wasn’t much introduction of the characters to begin with, which kept me at arms’ length from their stories to start with, although I did become more invested as we learnt more about them. It didn’t help that the majority of the characters were not particularly likeable, even the ones who we are supposed to be afraid for. The most developed and relatable of the characters were actually the police officers brought in to investigate the disappearance. They were all given very strong and individual personalities and I warmed to them all, even the awkward ones, and they carried this book for me.

This was a book I enjoyed passing a few hours with, I thought the story line was original and well-developed and the police procedural side was very interesting. I definitely was gripped through the second half, although I was not 100% satisfied by the ending. Entertaining, but not edge of your seat gripping. However, I would be interested in seeing what else the author can do.

Burning Secrets is out now and you can get a copy here.

To read more reviews, check out the other blogs taking part in the blitz as detailed below:

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About the Author

ruth sutton

Ruth is a very independent person, which – like many things – is good up to a point, but can get tricky sometimes. She lives in a very beautiful place, but it’s a long way to a cinema, or a big supermarket, and if the time comes when she can’t or doesn’t want to drive, she’ll have to move as there’s no public transport. She qualifies for a bus pass, but there aren’t any buses. Her daughter and her family live quite close by, and she loves to see her two grandchildren. After decades on her own, she has a partner whom she loves. They each have their own house, 40 minutes apart, and this life style suits them both. Ruth wrote her first novel after she was 60.

In addition, Ruth has self-published a trilogy entitled Between the Mountains and the Sea; A Good Liar tells the story of Jessie who risks career and independence with a love affair, whilst her secret past draws ever closer. Forgiven is set among the coal mines and fells of the Cumberland coast. Jessie’s struggle for happiness continues. Fallout features the nuclear disaster at Windscale, which brings a compelling stranger into Jessie’s world.

Connect with Ruth:

Website: http://ruthsutton.co.uk/wordpress/

Twitter: @ruthsutton

damppebbles blog tours

Coming Home to Maple Cottage by Holly Martin #BookReview #BlogTour #BlogBlitz (@HollyMAuthor) @bookouture #ComingHomeToMapleCottage

Coming-Home-to-Maple-Cottage-Kindle

“Isla Rosewood is creating a new life for herself and her sweet nephew Elliot in their cosy, yellow-brick family cottage, brimming with special memories. Living in Sandcastle Bay was never part of Isla’s plan but, after her brother Matthew’s tragic accident, her whole world changed as she unexpectedly became a mother to the little boy she adores so much.

Leo Jackson was always known as Matthew’s fun-loving and wild best friend. But now Matthew is gone, it’s time to put his colourful past behind him. His role as Elliot’s godfather is the most important thing to him. And even though Leo and Isla are two very different people, they both want to give Elliot the childhood he deserves.

As the three of them enjoy time together watching fireworks, baking cakes and collecting conkers, Isla begins to see a softer side to charming Leo, with his twinkling eyes and mischievous sense of humour. And, despite herself, she begins to fall for him.

But does Leo feel the same way? Isla knows their situation is complicated but is it too complicated for true love… or will the year end with a happy new beginning for them all?”

So delighted and excited to be taking part in the gorgeous, autumnal treat of a book, Coming Home To Maple Cottage by Holly Martin. My thank to Kim Nash at Bookouture for allowing me on to the tour and for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Anyone who has read a book by Holly Martin before knows what to expect and the lovely cover of the book gives more clues that this is a warm romantic read, perfect for these lengthening autumn evenings when all you want to do is draw the curtains and hunker down with a mug of hot chocolate and a cosy read.

The book is set in the friendly little seaside town of Sandcastle Bay. However, this idyll has only become home again to Isla Rosewood following the tragic death of her brother, Matthew, which has resulted in Isla being forced to abandon her life in London and being dumped by her long-term boyfriend so she can return home and take up guardianship of her five-year-old nephew, Elliot. She is slowly rebuilding a life for the two of them with the help of the close-knit community in Sandcastle Bay, including her friends and family and, particularly, Matthew’s best friend Leo Jackson. But then all of this is put in jeopardy by an unwelcome arrival in the town…

There is much to love about this book. The characters are all warm and likeable; Holly has a flair for writing people that you are drawn to. Isla’s plight is interesting and compelling enough to have you desperate to find out what is going to happen and invested in the story to the final page. Leo is a suitable attractive but flawed romantic lead in the best traditions of the genre so I was praying for things to work out between him and Isla, essential in a book of this kind. There is also a supporting cast of interesting townsfolk, some of whom bring a welcome comic streak to the story with their small town gossiping and I was cringing along with Isla at times, but it was a very accurate portrayal of how small towns work. My favourite character, though, is Elliot. He is just adorable and Holly does a great job of capturing the speech and obsessions of a five-year-old. The relationships between Elliot and Isla and Leo and Elliot are the beating heart of this book and are a joy to behold.

I did have a couple of problems with this book. A minor one was some of the names – they are way out there on the tweeness scale, even more so than in normal in one of Holly’s book, so sugary they made my teeth hurt. Hot Chocolate Cottage was a step too far for me, I’m afraid.

My main issue was with one of the major plot devices. I don’t want to give too much away but, as a solicitor, I have to say that I could not suspend my disbelief enough to accept the actions of one of the characters. I just don’t believe it would happen like that. Even with all the poetic licence in the world it just did not ring true. Sorry. It did rather spoil the book for me and I wish Holly had found some other way of dealing with that aspect of the story.

On the up side, I really loved all the little autumnal details that were in there with the festivities and activities. And the romance between Isla and Leo was completely authentic and I loved that aspect of the book.

This is a sweet story and I am sure fans of Holly’s will love it, it has all the elements present that make her books os popular. There was a lot in it that I enjoyed and I am not sorry I read it. Even with the drawbacks, I was still eager to read to the end, but I could have enjoyed it more if some of the above issues had been different. Good, but not perfect, but you should read it and make your own judgement.

Coming Home To Maple Cottage is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour, make sure you check out the blogs listed below:

Coming Home to Maple Cottage - Blog Blitz

About the Author

Holly Martin - author photo

Holly lives in a little white cottage by the sea. She studied media at university which led to a very glitzy career as a hotel receptionist followed by a even more glamorous two years working in a bank. The moment that one of her colleagues received the much coveted carriage clock for fifteen years’ service was the moment when she knew she had to escape. She quit her job and returned to university to train to be a teacher. Three years later, she emerged wide eyed and terrified that she now had responsibility for the development of thirty young minds. She taught for four years and then escaped the classroom to teach history workshops, dressing up as a Viking one day and an Egyptian High Priestess the next. But the long journeys around the UK and many hours sat on the M25 gave her a lot of time to plan out her stories and she now writes full time, doing what she loves.

Holly has been writing for 8 years. She was shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance. Her short story won the Sunlounger competition and was published in the Sunlounger anthology. She won the Carina Valentine’s competition at the Festival of Romance 2013 with her novel The Guestbook. She was shortlisted for Best Romantic Read, Best eBook and Innovation in Romantic Fiction at the Festival of Romance 2014. She is the bestselling author of 18 books.

Connect with Holly:

Facebook: Holly Martin Author

Twitter: @HollyMAuthor

Instagram: @hollymartin_author

Goodreads: Holly Martin