Blog Tour: An Island of Secrets by Eva Glyn

An Island of Secrets

I am thrilled to be one of the bloggers kicking off the tour for An Island of Secrets by Eva Glyn today. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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That was then…

Seventy-five years ago, British SOE spy Guy Barclay was forced to leave behind the woman he loved in war-ravaged Yugoslavia.

…This is now

As ninety-three-year-old Guy’s days draw to a close, he asks his granddaughter, Leo Holmes, to go looking for answers. Given that her marriage has imploded and her City job is on the verge of killing her, Leo agrees and rents a house on the island of Vis, where her grandfather was stationed in the Second World War.

But as Leo’s search takes her down unexpected roads – and into the path of a gorgeous local, Andrej Pintaric – she begins to wonder if this journey down memory lane might yield unexpected results for more than just her beloved grandfather…

I’ll make an admission here. I signed up for the blog tour for this book without reading the book’s blurb because I have loved Eva Glyn’s previous work. I was kind of dismayed when I did get round to looking at what the book was about because, as a general rule, I don’t read novels set in times of modern warfare. It is just a genre I don’t particularly enjoy. However, a promise is a promise, so I decided to give it a go.

Lo and behold, I actually really enjoyed this book. It is set at a time and place during the Second World War that I am not familiar with at all and I found it absolutely fascinating from a historical perspective. I’d never heard anything about wartime activities of the British in, what was then, Yugoslavia and the precursor to the rise of Tito and communism in that country. Despite my lack of enthusiasm about modern conflict-set books, I do love to learn new information, so this previously unfamiliar aspect of the Second World War pulled me in and piqued my interest. It is clear that the author has done a lot of research about the location and what went on there during this period and this really brought the history to life.

Another reason that the book held my interest was that the focus was not primarily on the conflict, but on the relationship between Guy and Ivka and the war was the backdrop for that. Don’t get me wrong, the war is central to the story because their love story only unfolds the way it does because of the situation they find themselves in, but the focus on these intimate, personal experiences of war and how they affected the lives of those involved forever, changing the course of their futures, is what made it absorbing for me. The author has drawn beautiful, sympathetic characters in this book and their story was intensely moving and emotional. It would be a stunted heart that couldn’t feel the pain that war has caused these people by the end.

There are some quite disturbing events described in the book and the author does not shy away from telling the reader the truth about the horror of war, and not just the atrocities committed by the enemy. I was very shocked at one of the story threads running through the book, never having heard anything about such things happening before, and I think one of the best things about novels such as this is keeping the memories of these atrocities alive and trying to make sure they never happen again. Given the threats that women are still facing every single day across the world at the moment, even in supposedly progressive nations, these things are important. I am feeling especially sensitive to media around these topics at the moment, so I found reading this book quite painful and anger-inducing, but these are emotions that are necessary to overcome complacency and apathy and remind ourselves that we need to keep fighting against these things.

This sounds like the book might be a heavy read, but it really isn’t. The writing is engaging, the location setting vivid and immersive and the historical detail fascinating. If a book like this can engage and impress a war-phobic reader like me, fans of the genre are going to love it.

An Island of Secrets is out now in ebook and will be published in paperback on 26 May and you can buy a copy here.

Please do make sure you follow this magnificent tour:

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About the Author

An Island Of Secrets - Eva Glyn on her travels (1)

Eva Glyn writes escapist relationship-driven fiction with a kernel of truth at its heart. She loves to travel and finds inspiration in beautiful places and the stories they hide.

Her last holiday before lockdown was a trip to Croatia, and the country’s haunting histories and gorgeous scenery have proved fertile ground, driven by her friendship with a tour guide she met there. His wartime story provided the inspiration for The Olive Grove and his help in creating a realistic portrayal of Croatian life had proved invaluable. Her second novel set in the country, a dual timeline looking back to World War 2, will be published in the spring of 2022, also by One More Chapter.

Eva lives in Cornwall, although she considers herself Welsh, and has been lucky enough to have been married to the love of her life for twenty-five years. She also writes as Jane Cable.

Connect with Eva:

Facebook: Eva Glyn

Twitter: @JaneCable

Instagram: @janecable

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Blog Tour: The Meet Cute Method by Portia MacIntosh

The Meet Cute Method

I am delighted to be one of the blogs opening the tour for The Meet Cute Method, the new book by Portia MacIntosh, and on publication day to boot! Happy publication day, Portia. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for asking me to take part in the tour and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

THE MEET CUTE METHOD

Do movie romances ever happen in real life…?

Frankie doesn’t believe in true love. As relationships expert at popular magazine Stylife, she has learnt that dating disasters are far more common than happy ever afters.

So when she is tasked to find out if meet cutes can work in real life she is up for the challenge – but whether it’s being a damsel in distress with a flat tyre, or spilling coffee over a stranger, she isn’t convinced this can really lead to love.

But little does Frankie know that the ultimate meet cute opportunity is just around the corner. As she is whisked off her feet (all in the name of her work project of course…) perhaps true love isn’t just for the movies after all…?

What a fabulous, fun, fast read this was! I fairly flew through this book, laughing all the way, so enjoyable was it. A really fresh, funny, frenetic book.

Okay, I’ve run out of adjectives beginning with the letter ‘f’ to describe this story now, so I better get in to the meat of the review. This is a really joyous, light-hearted romantic comedy that will whisk you from London to the sandy shores of Hawaii and the bright lights of LA, following the romantic catastrophes of Frankie George. Frankie is the dating columnist on a women’s magazine and her new boss is demanding fresh ideas from Frankie for her column, or the threat of unemployment dangles over her. But Frankie has exhausted all the tired dating routines, so what can she do. Explore some tired movie dating tropes instead, of course.

Frankie is a disaster area when it comes to love, so none of the things she tries run smoothly, which leads to much hilarity for the reader. Portia has a wicked imagination when it comes to awkward scenarios to drop Frankie into. The dog in the park and the date with Tom had me snorting into my tea. Snorting with laughter was a mainstay of this book, which is always a point in a novel’s favour. But alongside this runs the serious issue of why Frankie’s love life is so tragic, and the sweet relationship which builds between herself and Max.

The author does a really fab job of muddying the waters in the book as to who Frankie will end up with, in the middle I was convinced it might go a different way, but the ending made me very happy. There is nothing not to enjoy here, it contains all the perfect ingredients for the ideal romcom – high jinks, beautiful settings, relatable characters and an ending to melt the stoniest of hearts. Fabulous from start to finish. 

The Meet Cute Method is out in both ebook and paperback format today, and you can buy a copy here.

You can also read my recent interview with Portia here.

Many more great blogs coming up on the tour, make sure you visit a few:

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About the Author

Life Author

 

Portia MacIntosh is the bestselling author of over 20 romantic comedy novels.

From disastrous dates to destination weddings, Portia’s romcoms are the perfect way to escape from day to day life, visiting sunny beaches in the summer and snowy villages at Christmas time. Whether it’s southern Italy or the Yorkshire coast, Portia’s stories are the holiday you’re craving, conveniently packed in between the pages.

Formerly a journalist, Portia has left the city, swapping the music biz for the moors, to live the (not so) quiet life with her husband and her dog in Yorkshire.

Connect with Portia:

Connect with Portia:

Website: www.portiamacintosh.com

Twitter: @PortiaMacIntosh 

Instagram: @portiamacintoshauthor

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Blog Tour: The Secret Voices by M. J. White

The Secret Voices

So excited today to be taking my turn on the blog tour for the first crime thriller by Miranda Dickinson writing as M. J. White. I love Miranda’s romance novels, so I was excited to see what she would do in this new genre with The Secret Voices.  My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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They said they’d keep me safe.

They said, ‘It’s okay, Hannah. You know you can trust me.’

They lied.

When eight-year-old Hannah Perry goes missing in the small Suffolk village of St Just, the community is rocked. Heading up the investigation is Acting DS Rob Minshull, but he’s out of his depth in a case that seems to mirror the disappearance of a young boy, seven years ago. That search ended in unimaginable tragedy…and Minshull is praying that history won’t be repeated.

But with an investigation full of dead ends, and a kidnapper taunting the police with sinister deliveries of Hannah’s belongings and cryptic notes, the young girl’s life hangs perilously in danger.

Until Dr Cora Lael enters the picture. A psychologist with a unique ability, Cora’s rare gift allows her to sense emotions attached to discarded objects. When she is shown the first of Hannah’s belongings, she hears the child’s piercing scream.

With few leads on the case, could Cora prove Hannah’s only hope? And as time runs out, can they find Hannah before history repeats itself…?

Every parent’s worst nightmare, your child going missing, is the basis for this story. The hectic scramble to find them as soon as possible, the fading of hope, the suspicion pointed at family and friends. Inside the police investigation, the officers trawl for leads, trying to get one step ahead of whoever is responsible before tragedy occurs. Pressure piling on from all sides – the press, the public, the family, your superiors. What toll does this take on the detectives charged with finding the missing child, especially if the case has echoes of a similar investigation that failed years before? You might think these are all ideas that have been explored in crime fiction before, what new territory does this book explore? Plenty, I assure you.

Sure, all of these standard elements are present but I have to tell you that Miranda really explores the emotional aspects of this to a degree that I’m not sure I’ve experienced in a crime novel before. I don’t know whether this is some of her experience as a romance novelist making her come at this from a slightly different angle but I really felt the emotional toll of this investigation all the parties involved oozing off the page. Told from the perspectives of the different people involved in the story, including the abducted child herself, the reader is really drawn in to the horror and stress of the story from a full colour, 360 degree perspective. It is totally immersive.

Add to this a completely unique idea for a different dimension to bring to the investigation, and you have a cracker of a story. Cora is a psychologist blessed, or cursed depending on your perspective, with emotional synaesthesia – the ability to detect people’s emotions from their discarded objects. Persuaded to use her ability to help the hunt for Hannah, Cora hopes to find acceptance and purpose for the ability which has made her feel apart and alone most of her life. But is she prepared for the emotional toll the experience will take and will openly revealing her abilities achieve the exact opposite of what she hopes? Following Cora’s journey through the novel was a fascinating and thought provoking process for me and really adds a fresh dimension to the crime thriller genre.

I would say that Miranda’s detour into the world of crime fiction has been a resounding success based on this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it, found it to be fresh, complex and accomplished and I can’t wait to read more featuring these characters. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves Miranda’s writing, because all the skill evident in her romance novels is at play here too, and anyone looking for an interesting new voice in the crime thriller genre. Outstanding stuff.

The Secret Voices is out now in ebook and paperback formats and you can buy a copy here.

Please check out some of the other blogs taking part in the tour for alternative reviews of the book:

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About the Author

MJ White author photo 2021

MJ White is the crime pen name of the internationally bestselling author Miranda Dickinson. To date she has sold over one million books worldwide and has been translated into sixteen languages. Miranda has always been a huge fan of crime fiction and The Secret Voices marks the start of a new and exciting departure for her writing.

Connect with M J White:

Twitter: @MJWhite13

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Blog Tour: We’ll Always Have Venice by Leonie Mack

Well Always Have Venice

I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour today for We’ll Always Have Venice by Leonie Mack. I loved the first book in the series, A Match Made in Venice when I read it at the end of last year (you can read my review here), so I was eager to get back to Italy and catch up with what was going on with the York girls. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour, and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Who can resist the romance of Venice… 

When Norah arrives in Venice for a ten-week internship she is surprised to discover that her guide for her work trips around the lagoon is the undeniably gorgeous and kind Gianluca. She can’t help thinking he might be too good to be true, with his endless fascinating local stories, and his infectious laugh.

Norah is still bitter after an accident left her with a serious injury and also meant the end of her long-term relationship. And besides, she’s serious about her career and that means leaving Venice at the end of the summer. 

Gianluca has had a summer fling before that led to heartache for him and he won’t do it again. He enjoys the long hours out on the lagoon with Norah, but after a storm strands them on a picture-perfect island for a night, they agree they should just be good friends for the summer. 

But life doesn’t always go to plan, and when it’s time for Norah to go, they have to decide whether what they have between them is really just a friendship, and not something more… 

I was desperate to be whisked back to the romance of Venice when I picked up the new book by Leonie Mack, having enjoyed my last trip there with her so much. Last time it was winter in The Floating City, so it was fun to anticipate how different it might look when we take a trip there in summer with Norah, as she embarks on her summer internship studying the algae that grows in its famous lagoon. (Bear with me, this is way more interesting than it sounds!)

Norah is the younger sister of Didi, who found love with a Ventian glassmaker in the first book in this series. You don’t need to have read, A Match Made in Venice, to enjoy We’ll Always Have Venice, but I highly recommend picking it up anyway because it is a fantastic read. Norah is determined not to follow in her sister’s footsteps though – she has a career to focus on which requires her to leave Venice at the end of summer and, anyway, she’s been let down by people before, best keep herself aloof. It’s going to be hard, though, when she is in such close proximity to Gianluca all summer…

We all know what comes at the end of romance novels, it’s how we get there that is important, and the journey that Leonie takes us on in this book is full of charm, tenderness and truth. She really draws a portrait of two damaged souls who have been hurt so badly in the past that fear is preventing them admitting their feelings for one another in a way that feels very realistic and honest. Watching their relationship grow despite their best efforts in engrossing and immensely touching, and I was completely captivated by their story.

Aside from the romance aspect of the story, what draws me to Leonie’s books is the setting, and the very different and fascinating approach she always takes to showcasing it. Here, Norah’s profession takes us to areas of Venice that are well off the tourist track and ones we would never expect to see normally in this type of book. She has obviously put in a huge amount of research to make this career for Norah sound convincing, there was so much detail woven in to the writing, I was really impressed with how it was done. The way she has used this so integrally to the plot, as opposed to just a mechanism to get her to Venice and in to the arms of Gianluca, is brilliant and I think it makes this book stand out from the herd of travel romance novels.

I continue to be excited by Leonie’s writing and, early in her career as she is, I’m eager to see what she does next. To be so bold and confident at this stage bodes well for her future, and is promising for us as reader that there is more and better to come. Aren’t we lucky?

We’ll Always Have Venice is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here. It is also included in your Kindle Unlimited subscription if you have one.

Please make sure to follow the rest of the tour for more reviews and other great content:

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About the Author

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Leonie Mack is an author of romantic comedies with great international locations. Having lived in London for many years her home is now in Germany with her husband and three children. Leonie loves train travel, medieval towns, hiking and happy endings!

Connect with Leonie:

Website: https://leoniemack.com/

Facebook: Leonie Mack

Twitter: @LeonieMAuthor

Instagram: @leoniejmack

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Book Review: Elektra by Jennifer Saint

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The House of Atreus is cursed. A bloodline tainted by a generational cycle of violence and vengeance. This is the story of three women, their fates inextricably tied to this curse, and the fickle nature of men and gods.

Clytemnestra
The sister of Helen, wife of Agamemnon – her hopes of averting the curse are dashed when her sister is taken to Troy by the feckless Paris. Her husband raises a great army against them and determines to win, whatever the cost.

Cassandra
Princess of Troy, and cursed by Apollo to see the future but never to be believed when she speaks of it. She is powerless in her knowledge that the city will fall.

Elektra
The youngest daughter of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon, Elektra is horrified by the bloodletting of her kin. But can she escape the curse, or is her own destiny also bound by violence?

Today is publication day for Elektra by Jennifer Saint and so I am delighted to be sharing my review of the book with you all. Huge thanks to Caitlin Raynor at Headline for sending me an advance copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Jennifer Saint’s last book, Ariadne, was one of my top books of 2021 (you can read my review here) so I really was looking forward to reading Elektra but wondering if she could pull off the same transformation of a seemingly well known story again. The answer is yes, with bells on.

In fact, I could almost life my review of Ariadne and paste it, word for word, into the review for Elektra, because Jennifer Saint has taken the same principle, taking well known Greek myths and telling them from the perspective of the women involved, and applied it to the story of the siege of Troy. Interestingly, though, she has chosen not to focus on the main female figure in the tale – Helen, whose beauty brought down an entire nation – but three other women, seemingly on the periphery but actually central to the whole story, Clytemnestra, Cassandra and Elektra.

If you are familiar with the written history of the Trojan War, I am sure there are bits of the book you might take issue with. This is a reimagining of events which, after all have many different versions woven around them by different writers, in an attempt to bring events from centuries ago to life for modern audiences, and it is very effective in this regard. These women could be any of us, living, breathing, loving and losing on the page, and the emotions they feel will be recognisable to us all. Frustration at being held back because of our sex, jealousy when the attention of our partner is focused elsewhere, fear of abandonment, grief at the loss of a loved one – these are things that women are still facing today, challenges that ring down through the ages and you will soon find yourselves pulled in to the story and living along with the characters.

Let me just tell you, most of the characters in this story are not pleasant. They are largely selfish, ambitious, hubristic and cruel. They do some horrific things to each other, seemingly for small slights that are not commensurate with the price paid in blood as a result. However, the author does a great job of trying to show why they took the actions they did and making the women at least somewhat sympathetic. For example, if you read the story of Clytemnestra baldly on Google, she sounds like a monster. However, as a woman who has been through the loss of a child,  I can feel her pain, anguish and fury and understand what motivates her, even if I don’t think I would have done the same, I hasten to add. The scenes involving the captured women on the beach after the sack of Troy are heart-breaking, and give you food for thought when you see the news about what is currently happening in Eastern Europe today. You might ask yourselves how far civilisation has actually progressed in 4,000 years and whether base human nature remains the same down the millennia.

This is a fantastic historical retelling of a story that has enthralled Greek mythology fanatics for years, a terrifying morality tale and an exploration of the strength and resilience of women in a world in which they have no actual power. The author blends all of these aspects together into an entertaining, gripping and moving book that I was glued to from beginning to end and could not wait to recommend to my friends afterwards. My only question now is whether to buy a gorgeous hardback to match my copy of Ariadne, or just hang on to the personalised proof that I was so thrilled to be asked to review. I cannot wait to see what this author is going to tackle next; whatever it is, I’m sure it will be exciting.

Elektra is out today in hardback, audio and ebook formats and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Jennifer Saint grew up reading Greek mythology and was always drawn to the untold stories hidden within the myths. After thirteen years as a high school English teacher, she wrote ARIADNE which tells the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur from the perspective of Ariadne – the woman who made it happen. Her second novel, ELEKTRA, explores the curse upon the House of Atreus, giving voice to three women who are caught up in its shadows: Clytemnestra, Cassandra and Elektra whose lives are shattered by the Trojan War and who seek to find justice at any cost. Jennifer Saint is now a full-time author, living in Yorkshire, England, with her husband and two children.

Connect with Jennifer:

Website: https://www.jennifersaint.com/

Facebook: Jennifer Saint Author

Twitter: @jennysaint

Instagram: @jennifer.saint.author

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Blog Tour: The Rabbit Factor by Antti Tuomainen; Translated by David Hackston

Rabbit Factor Graphic

Today I am thrilled to be taking my turn on the blog tour for the paperback release of The Rabbit Factor by Antti Tuomainen. Thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part and to the publisher for providing me with a digital copy of the book for the purposes of review, although I had already purchased a physical copy. I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially.

Unknown

What makes life perfect? Insurance mathematician Henri Koskinen knows the answer because he calculates everything down to the very last decimal.

And then, for the first time, Henri is faced with the incalculable. After suddenly losing his job, Henri inherits an adventure park from his brother – its peculiar employees and troubling financial problems included. The worst of the financial issues appear to originate from big loans taken from criminal quarters … and some dangerous men are very keen to get their money back.

But what Henri really can’t compute is love. In the adventure park, Henri crosses paths with Laura, an artist with a chequered past, and a joie de vivre and erratic lifestyle that bewilders him. As the criminals go to extreme lengths to collect their debts and as Henri’s relationship with Laura deepens, he finds himself faced with situations and emotions that simply cannot be pinned down on his spreadsheets…

Sometimes you come across a book and everything about it makes your heart sing. I know my fellow bookworms recognise that feeling, know that it is rare but, when it does occur, it’s joyous. My friends, The Rabbit Factor is one of those books.

This is the story of Henri, a very uptight man who likes everything in his life to be ordered and logical. He is an actuary, and he makes all of his life decisions (and I do mean ALL of them) based on logic and probability and he doesn’t like anything which disrupts this system or seems to him not to make sense when viewed from this perspective. This is itself makes reading about his life a ludicrous business, and I’d give you some examples from the book which made me laugh out loud but I don’t want to include any spoilers in this review. I’ll just say that this is one of those books that makes people look at you oddly on a train if you decide to read it in public.

So, the premise of this book is a classic ‘fish-out-of-water’ story. What happens when this man is accosted by a set of circumstances that don’t make any sense, can’t be dealt with on a purely logical basis, involve people who made illogical decisions or don’t behave in a predictable way and force him to think things and feel things that he has never had to think or feel before. This is what confronts Henri when his wild, reckless and unpredictable brother dies and leaves Henri his adventure park, responsibility for its employees and all the difficulties that go with it.

Seeing uptight Henri the loner actuary in charge of a children’s adventure park would in itself be hilarious enough for a story. However, this is also a crime caper, because the adventure park is in financial difficulty and his brother seems to have been caught up in some dodgy dealings which Henri has also inherited. How do you logically calculate your way out of criminal enterprise involving people who use violence instead of reason? Read this book to find out. However, this implausible story is not the biggest delight at the heart of this novel, it is merely the ingenious skeleton on which the flesh of this fantastic novel hangs.

There are two things which makes this book a standout for me. The first is the writing. Antti Tuomainen has the most delicious way with language, a gift for finding the hilarious in the mundane and a wicked turn of phrase that is music to the visual ear (if that is even a thing… you know what I mean anyway!) As I said before, this book is funny, laugh out loud so in parts, but it is also clever. Beyond this, he also knows how to write tenderly when tenderness is required, with tension when that is appropriate and with insight and consideration when this is needed to bring the plot to life. This book, as well as making me laugh, also really touched me in places, with a beautiful exploration of human nature, what speaks to our hearts, how relationships can change us, and how even the most cut-off and stringent of souls can be reached and touched by the right people. This book contains so many facets that there is something here for everyone – comedy, crime, love – the layers open up throughout like an unfurling flower to reveal its full beauty by the end.

The second, and most important aspect that brings this book alive are the characters. Everyone is individual, well-developed and integral to the plot. Even the one that doesn’t appear until right at the end, because there is a reason for this that adds to it. You can tell that no one is there for any reason other than they are essential, and every one has been given the same care and consideration in their development. Henri, of course, is the star and I could read a book featuring him every day of the week. For someone so alien to most of us, he is relatable and completely lovable and I am so glad to hear that this is the start of a series in which he will feature. Henri aside, I love everyone else. Laura, Kristian, Johanna, the security guard – the way they all interact and play their part. Even Henri’s old boss who he has written off proves to have a use in Henri’s life after all, they are all brilliantly interconnected in his awakening to a future he never knew existed, or that he had craved. It’s beautifully done, heart-warming and uplifting. The reason this book made me so happy.

I have always been a fan of Antti’s books but this may have just overtaken Palm Beach Finland as my favourite. I’ll have to go back and read the latter for comparison, which won’t be a hardship. While I’m here, just a word on the translation. If the name of the translator were not on the cover, you would never know this was a translated text, it is that seamless. This is no mean achievement and deserves recognition.

If you want a real treat, treat yourself to this, I promise you will close the back cover with a smile on your face and a warm, Ready Brek glow around your heart.

The Rabbit Factor is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.

Please check out the rest of the fantastic blogs taking part in the tour for more great reviews:

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About the Author

Antti-Tuomainen

Finnish Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author Iin 2013, the Finnish press crowned Tuomainen the ‘King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen was one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and his poignant, dark and hilarious The Man Who Died became an international bestseller, shortlisting for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards. Palm Beach Finland was an immense success, with Marcel Berlins (The Times) calling Tuomainen ‘the funniest writer in Europe’. His latest thriller, Little Siberia, was shortlisted for the CWA International Dagger, the Amazon Publishing/Capital Crime Awards and the CrimeFest Last Laugh Award, and won the Petrona Award for Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year.

Connect with Antti:

Website: http://anttituomainen.com

Facebook: Antti Tuomainen Official

Twitter: @antti_tuomainen

Instagram: @anttituomainen

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Blog Tour: Bayou Cresting: The Wanting Women of Huet Pointe by Jodie Cain Smith

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In Huet Pointe, ambition is as dangerous as the brackish water that surrounds the sliver of land. But, the women of this antebellum hamlet yearn for more than society insists they be-devout, feminine, and content with living according to cultural norms. So, what’s a girl to do? She could employ poison, perhaps a bit of adultery, and drowning in alligator-infested waters is always a choice-whatever it takes to achieve her goal.

A novel-in-stories, Bayou Cresting: The Wanting Women of Huet Pointe, tells the stories of ten women brought together by proximity, forever entangled by the actions they take.

I am delighted to be taking my turn on the blog tour today for Bayou Cresting: The Wanting Women of Huet Pointe by Jodie Cain Smith. My thanks to Love Book Tours for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the publisher for providing me with a digital copy of the book for the purpose of review. I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially.

An interconnected set of short stories, weaving together the lives of ten women who inhabit a small town in forgotten swampland, Bayou Cresting is a must-read for fans of Southern Gothic literature. Set in the mid-1800s, this book brings together everything that is appealing and emotive about this enticing genre. Earthiness, darkness, voodoo, magic, murder and mayhem, with a feminist spin, this is a deeply fascinating piece of work.

Firstly, the writing transports the reader directly to the heart of the humid, hidden bayous of the Deep South at an important point in history and this book has one of the strongest senses of place in a novel I have read for a long time. You can feels the steamy, oppressive heat rising from the page, feel the isolation of this forgotten place and experience the simmering tensions that undercut life in this town. Even those characters who seem genteel on the surface can be hiding black hearts and those who are looked down upon by the community can surprise you with their consideration and kindness. This is a book that questions every stereotype you have ever come across in Southern Gothic literature.

The book focuses solely on the women of the town. The men play bit parts, only relevant insofar as they affect and impact the lives and behaviour of those women, which is a fascinating way to portray a society where the women are secondary and subservient to the men in every way – or so it would seem. the abiding takeaway for me from reading this novel is that women’s strength will make itself felt, come what may, and there is little that men can do about it in the end.

Many of the characters in this book are not liable, but this does not make them any less interesting, possibly more so. Some of the characters, in fact, are downright appalling, but they are still fully realised, well-rounded and recognisable individuals, not caricatures. What makes this book such compelling reading is that the characters are realistic and believable, which makes their behaviour much more impactful. There are some terrible goings on in these stories, the tension will pull you in and hold you from story to story. Every facet of life in the town is covered, from the ladies in their antebellum mansions to the slaves in their quarters and the women in the local brothel, and the ones who are happiest are not necessarily the ones you would expect, if indeed anyone who is truly happy in this lost town.

A really unusual construction for a novel, where they are only loosely connected by location and character crossover, this nonetheless feels like a complete story, drawn together to the inevitable denouement, which left me with a deep sense of unease and disturbance at the lives of these women. Any book which evokes a strong reaction in the reader is an achievement in writing and, whilst not being what I expected, this book certainly left its mark on me. I hope it finds a wide readership, it is a fantastic piece of work.

Bayou Cresting: The Wanting Women of Huet Pointe is out now in ebook and paperback formats and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Jodie Cain Smith is the author of two Southern Gothic novels, The Woods at Barlow Bend (1st edition Deer Hawk Publications, Nov 2014; 2nd edition Kat Biggie Press, July 2021) and Bayou Cresting: The Wanting Women of Huet Pointe (Crowsnest Books, 2021). More than any other character, Jodie enjoys creating ambitious women who often fly across the line to dangerous women. She is the founder of the Mobile Literary Festival, proving her philosophy of “If it doesn’t exist, create it yourself.” When she is not creating southern fiction, Jodie can be found in the worlds of superheroes, Lego, and Mario Kart with her little boy and husband. Her Mario Kart driving needs work, the boy is awesome, and the husband puts up with all the crazy. Jodie Cain Smith’s short stories, feature articles, and columns have appeared in Pieces Anthology, the Pulpwood Queen’s Works in Progress, The Petigru Review, Chicken Soup for the Military Spouse’s Soul, The Savannah Morning News, and the Fort Hood Sentinel.

Connect with Jodie:

Website: https://jodiecainsmith.com

Facebook: Jodie Cain Smith

Twitter: @JodieCainSmith

Instagram: @jodiecainsmithauthor

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Book Review: The Serial Killer’s Girl by L. H. Stacey

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Does a killer’s blood run in the family?

Lexi Jakes thought she could run from her past…she was wrong.

Because when her biological mother is found dead, with all the same hallmarks of her own serial killer father, Lexi knows someone is out for revenge, and that she and her small daughter, Isla, could be next.

Determined to protect Isla, Lexi travels back to Lindisfarne, the small remote island where she grew up. There, cut off from the mainland, Lexi hopes they’ll both be safe.

But as the tide comes in and the causeway slowly closes, Lexi’s greatest fear comes true: now they are trapped with no way out.

Lexi will do anything to save her daughter…she is the serial killer’s girl after all.

I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Serial Killer’s Girl by L. H. Stacey today. My thanks to the author for inviting me to review her book and providing me with a digital copy for review. I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially as always.

The premise of this book is absolutely fascinating. What is life like for the children of people who have committed the most heinous of crimes? How do their families move on after their atrocities have been exposed and they are behind bars? It is something I haven’t really given much thought to in relation to their children, I have to say. I’ve sometimes wondered about their spouses – how can they not of known, how do they adjust afterwards to what their partner did and why they never suspected, but not the children, so I was keen to read the author’s exploration on the matter.

The plot is quite gripping. Someone murders Lexi’s mother in a way very similar to the methodology of her father’s crimes and she begins to worry that someone is out for revenge on him via the people he cares about. This would put Lexi, and more importantly her young daughter, in harm’s way. So Lexi decides to take her daughter and run to a place that she believes no one will find her and where she always has felt safe. Lindisfarne.

I loved the exploration in the book of this beautiful area of the country, as it a place I visited often as a child but have not revisited for many years. It was really interesting to read about it from the perspective of people living on the island, as opposed to visiting, and I thoroughly enjoyed the sections of the book set on Lindisfarne.

There was plenty of tension in Lexi’s situation. She has kept her past hidden from people she is close to, so this leads to tensions in her relationships as it all bubbles to the surface. It is not clear who is responsible for the murders – the author cleverly conceals their identity, even whilst writing some parts of the book from their perspective – and I was mystified until the end as to who had done it, although I had my suspicions. Look, some of the decisions Lexi makes are baffling to me and I was mentally screaming at her whilst reading because it was clear they weren’t going to lead to a good place. However, this was part of what created the tension, being able to see where she was going wrong and anticipating the upcoming fallout.

If I had any criticism of the book at all, it would be that there was some level of repetition of ideas in certain parts that felt a bit like labouring a point. However, I did read an early proof, rather than the finished copy, which may be different, and this did not in any way detract from the enjoyability or tension in the main plot. This is a very entertaining book for people who enjoy the genre of domestic, psychologic al thriller and I would not hesitate to recommend it.

The Serial Killer’s Girl is published on Thursday 27 April and you can pre-order a copy here.

About the Author

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As well as being the author of seven books, Stacey also works a full time job as a Sales Director. She’s also a fully qualified scuba diving instructor and has been known to happily jump in the sea with sharks, without a cage.

Following a life changing car accident in 2008, Stacey was left with limited mobility in her right arm. Unable to teach scuba diving professionally anymore, she turned to her love of writing, a hobby she’d followed avidly since being a teenager.

Her own life story, along with varied career choices helps Stacey to create stories with challenging and unpredictable plots.

Stacey’s debut novel ‘House of Secrets’ was published in 2016 and her seventh book ‘The Serial Killer’s Girl’ will be published by Boldwood Books in April 2022.

Website: http://www.lyndastacey.co.uk

Facebook: L H Stacey

Twitter: @LyndaStacey

Instagram: @lynda.stacey

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Audiobook Review: The Curfew by T. M. Logan; Narrated by Richard Armitage

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Your son said he was home. Why did he lie?

I should have known something was wrong.I should have sensed it. Felt it in the air, like the build-up of pressure before a thunderstorm, that heavy, loaded calm.

The curfew….

Andy and Laura are good parents. They tell their son, Connor, that he can go out with friends to celebrate completing his exams, but he must be home by midnight.

The lie….

When Connor misses his curfew, it sets off a series of events that will change the lives of five families forever.

The truth?

Because five teenagers went into the woods that night, but only four came out. And telling the truth might mean losing everything….

What would you do?

Every time I read a book by T. M. Logan I say it is my favourite of his books. Well, I can honestly say, having read The Curfew, this is my absolute favourite of his books so far.

The book is mainly narrated by Andy, a GP who is father to two children, sixteen-year-old Connor and his younger sister, Harriet. His family live fairly ordinary lives in a middle class suburb of Nottingham, and nothing seems likely to change that, until the night that Connor misses his curfew.

The characterisations in this book were spot on perfect, particularly of the parents, and the reason I loved it so much was because I could absolutely feel the worry and anguish of Andy and his wife Claire as they were drawn into a nightmare involving their son. The only thing worse that finding your son embroiled in a police investigation, is for your child to go missing, and both of these horrors are faced by parents in this book and my heart was on edge for them the whole time as I put myself in their shoes. As a parent, this book is all your nightmares made manifest.

The genius of the writing is to bring tension and horror to a completely ordinary setting. Where the story takes place is the most unlikely setting for drama, but this is what causes the real tension, because this kind of thing could all too easily happen to any of us. You don’t have to suspend your belief very far to imagine yourself or your family in Andy’s shoes, and it will make you insides curl up with fear and make you rush to the end, praying for a happy outcome for these people who are much too like you and I for comfort. I have never been so happy to do my housework as when I was eager to get to the end of this book.

I have consumed all but one of T. M. Logan’s books in audio format and I can honestly say that these are the perfect books to listen to. I like an audiobook that has pacy action that holds my attention, otherwise it is too easy for my mind to wander and for me to lose my place. This never happens with these books. Richard Armitage does an absolutely amazing job of narrating this story (would you expect anything less?) to the extent that at times I actually forgot I was listening to an actor narrating a piece of fiction.

If you like a thriller that can truly be called domestic, The Curfew is one for you. But be prepared to hug your children close and, maybe, bring their curfew forward an hour until the stress of this story has faded from your mind. Brilliantly terrifying for any parent, this story was scarier to me than any Stephen King novel.

The Curfew is available now in audiobook, ebook and hardback formats and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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TM Logan’s thrillers have sold more than a million copies in the UK and been translated into 22 other languages for publication around the world.

His brand new novel, THE CURFEW, follows the events of a hot midsummer’s night, when five teenagers go up to the woods to celebrate the end of exams, and only four come out…

THE HOLIDAY was a Richard & Judy Book Club pick and spent ten weeks in the Sunday Times paperback top ten. It has since won a Nielsen Bestseller Award and been made into a four-part TV drama with Jill Halfpenny for Channel 5.

Tim’s 2021 thriller, TRUST ME, begins when a woman is asked to look after a stranger’s baby on a train – only for the mother to vanish. When she looks in the baby’s things, she finds a note that says: ‘Please protect Mia. Don’t trust the police. Don’t trust anyone.’ His other books are THE CATCH, LIES and 29 SECONDS.

A former national newspaper journalist, Tim lives in Nottinghamshire with his family and writes in a cabin at the bottom of his garden.

For exclusive writing, new releases and a FREE deleted scene from Tim, sign up to the Readers’ Club.

Connect with T. M. Logan:

Website: https://www.tmlogan.com

Facebook: T M Logan Author

Twitter: @TMLoganAuthor

Instagram: @tmloganauthor

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Book Review: Traitor in the Ice by K. J. Maitland

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Winter, 1607. A man is struck down in the grounds of Battle Abbey, Sussex. Before dawn breaks, he is dead.

Home to the Montagues, Battle has caught the paranoid eye of King James. The Catholic household is rumoured to shelter those loyal to the Pope, disguising them as servants within the abbey walls. And the last man sent to expose them was silenced before his report could reach London.

Daniel Pursglove is summoned to infiltrate Battle and find proof of treachery. He soon discovers that nearly everyone at the abbey has something to hide – for deeds far more dangerous than religious dissent. But one lone figure he senses only in the shadows, carefully concealed from the world. Could the notorious traitor Spero Pettingar finally be close at hand?

As more bodies are unearthed, Daniel determines to catch the culprit. But how do you unmask a killer when nobody is who they seem?

This is the second book in the Daniel Pursglove historical mystery series. I was captivated by the first book, The Drowned Citywhen I read it last year (you can read my review of the book here) so I was delighted to be invited to review The Traitor in the Ice. My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of the book for this purpose, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

It is not necessary for you to have read the first book featuring Daniel Pursglove for you to be able to understand and enjoy The Traitor in the Ice, it works perfectly well as a standalone novel, although it would give you a little more background on how Daniel has found himself in the position he currently occupies as a spy for someone close to the throne. For those of you who have read The Drowned City, which is set in Bristol during the flood of 1606, the author has whittled out another freak weather event to form the backdrop of this book, the Great Freeze of 1607. For me, the weaving of an entertaining murder mystery with real life, little known historical events makes for the perfect novel, because I love to learn things as I am entertained.

The main setting of the book is the town of Battle, close to the coast in East Sussex, and its famous Abbey, which purports to be a hotbed of illicit Catholic activity at a time when this was illegal. Other chapters take place in London around the court of James I. Clearly, a huge amount of research has gone into this novel and the fictional element of the murder mystery is embedded firmly in historical fact about the life of Viscountess Montague and her sheltering of Catholic priests during the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I, when the Protestant faith was given prominence across the country. The book absolutely oozes with the tension and fear of persecution that stalked the steps of Catholics during that period, the constant threat of raids, capture, torture and execution for anyone accused of preaching the Catholic faith or harbouring anyone who did. This was particularly heightened during this period immediately following the failed Gunpowder Plot, when suspicion was rife that further attempts on the life of the King were being planned. The author has captured this oppressive fear and suspicion perfectly here and the book will have you on edge from beginning to end.

Amidst the task Daniel has been given to gain information about what role Battle and the Montague are playing in the Catholic cause at this time, he comes across a series of murders which appear to be linked with the Crown’s efforts to infiltrate Battle and discover its secrets. It quickly becomes clear, though, that the solution is not that straight forward and Daniel has to separate the truth from the false trails that the killer has attempted to lay to divert attention away from his actions. The author explores many interesting topics whilst weaving this tale of mystery and intrigue; the lives lead by servants in great households at this time; how the Catholic priests remained hidden and moved around the country and the Continent; how faith was practised in secret; the folk tales and superstitions of ordinary people at the time; the tensions and competition in James’s court between the Scots and the English nobility; the strange practice of night creeping. All of it is absolutely fascinating and I was captivated by every aspect.

The book is very detailed and I suppose some readers may find that the level of description slows the plot somewhat. However, for me it works absolutely brilliantly if you come at it from the perspective of it being as much a historical novel as a murder mystery and that it is balanced as such. The detail and description is important to the book as the action, if you look at it this way, and the historical information gleaned is as rewarding as solving the puzzle of the murders. This is what makes it such a special and rewarding read for me, the sublime blending of historical fact and real people with fictional characters and the mystery plot. Just a delight.

Whilst tying up the particular conundrum of who has committed the murders in this book and why, the author has left enough questions hanging to tantalise the reader with anticipation for the next book. There are particular questions left about who is really controlling Daniel and why, whose side they are on, and what is their ultimate goal. Also, the fate of one character is left curiously unresolved and I, for one, have no sooner closed this novel than I am hankering for the next. Write faster please, Ms. Maitland! Daniel is a character I have completely fallen in love with for his skills, cunning and sense of honour, and I am also enjoying learning more about this period of history, which is one I have not studied in much detail. I already await the hardback of this book arriving to grace my library, and I can’t wait for book three.

Highly recommended for lovers of historical fiction and murder mysteries alike.

The Traitor in the Ice will be published in hardback, audio and ebook formats on 31 March and in paperback on 29 September, and you can pre-order a copy here.

About the Author

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Karen Maitland is an historical novelist, lecturer and teacher of Creative Writing, with over twenty books to her name. She grew up in Malta, which inspired her passion for history, and travelled and worked all over the world before settling in the United Kingdom. She has a doctorate in psycholinguistics, and now lives on the edge of Dartmoor in Devon.

Connect with Karen:

Website: https://karenmaitland.com/

Facebook: Karen Maitland

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