Her Last Move by John Marrs #BookReview #BlogTour (@johnmarrs1) @AmazonPub @EmmaFinnigan @damppebbles #HerLastMove #damppebblesblogtours

Her Last Move cover

“She’s chasing a killer. He’s watching her every move.

He hides in the shadows, waiting for the perfect moment. Each kill is calculated, planned and executed like clockwork.

Struggling to balance her personal and professional life, young DS Becca Vincent has landed the biggest case of her career—and she knows that it will make or break her. But she can’t catch the culprit alone. Together with facial recognition expert Joe Russell, she strives to get a lead on the elusive murderer, who is always one step ahead of them.

Time is not on their side. The body count is rising, and the attacks are striking closer and closer to home. Can Becca and Joe uncover the connection between the murders before the killer strikes the last name from his list?”

This is my first book by John Marrs, I am embarrassed to admit. I know, I know, I should have read The One by now, everyone I know has raved about it, and I do have a copy sat on my shelf but I’ve just not got round to it yet. Having read this book and given the standard of the writing, I’ll have to move it up the TBR pronto.

This book is a breath-taking rollercoaster of a police procedural that kept me on my toes the whole way through. Honestly, every few pages there was a new plot twist that had me exclaiming ‘What?” and ‘No, that can’t happen!’, sometimes out loud. Lucky I’m on my own a lot otherwise people might have thought I was going a bit mad. (Actually, maybe that’s why I’m on my own a lot, constantly muttering to myself over books, I’ll have to watch it).

The book starts with a bang as we are launched straight into the mind of the killer, which is not the most relaxing place to be as the author has managed to create an extremely twisted mind to perpetrate the crimes in the book and he doesn’t pull any punches with the gruesome action right from the beginning. A seemingly random set of murders in quick succession leave the police, and the reader, scratching their heads as to what is the connection between and the motive for the murders. As we get alternate chapters from inside the mind of the killer, we have a better insight and a few more clues than the police but it is still baffling and kept me guessing all the way through.

The police woman at the forefront of the investigation is a young DS who is a single parent struggling to juggle home life and work and trying to make her mark in her job. Fortuitous timing leads to a toe hold in the investigation which she believes could be the big break she is looking for, but how can she square this with meeting the needs of her family? I thought Becca was a wonderful character that I could relate to very easily and this made the book all the more compelling as I was willing things to go well for her.

My favourite aspect of the book, though, was the involvement of DS Joe Russell, who is one of the Met’s ‘super recognisers’ – police men who have a photographic memory for faces and can be seconded to an investigation to help track down a perpetrator. I found the whole process behind his involvement absolutely fascinating, and he was another complex and well-drawn character that made the story even richer and more engaging.

This book was so well plotted, I was carried along with the story with ease and the author is not afraid to make some tough decisions with the story and the characters that really took the book in unexpected directions and left me shaken and affected. The last third of the book was so exciting that I had to read it straight through without even stopping to make a cuppa (unheard of!).

This book was a fast-paced, gripping read that kept me guessing right to the end. What more could you ask for?

Her Last Move is out now and you can buy your copy here.

To get a range of reviews for this book, follow the blog tour below:

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About the Author

John Marrs

John Marrs is the author of #1 bestsellers The One (soon to be made into a film with Urban Myth Films), The Good Samaritan (shortlisted for the Dead Good Reader Awards 2018), When You Disappeared, and Welcome to Wherever You Are. After working as a journalist for 25-years interviewing celebrities from the world of television, film and music for national newspapers and magazines, he is now a full-time writer. 

Her Last Move is dedicated to John’s late father, Charlie, who was a police officer for 25 years.

Connect with John:

Website: https://www.johnmarrsauthor.co.uk

Facebook: John Marrs Author

Twitter: @johnmarrs1

Instagram: @johnmarrs.author

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The Good, The Bad & The Rugby by Mark Farrer #BlogTour #Extract (@mark_farrer) @damppebbles #Giveaway #TheGoodTheBadTheRugby #damppebblesblogtours

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“Getting to the truth. By trial… and eror error.

Cullen is on jury duty, and the sleepy Scottish town of Melrose is experiencing a rare crime wave: the famous Rugby Sevens trophy is stolen, a dead body is unearthed, there is a spate of petty arson, and someone drives a van into Gloria’s front room.
Why? And what is her husband doing every night up on Eildon hill?

In this hilarious crime romp, misguided loyalties, thwarted love, and unbelievable gullibility reach crisis point on the one day in the year when the world pays a visit to Melrose.

At the final whistle, Cullen will ensure that justice is done.
Because sometimes twelve good men just isn’t enough.”

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Good, The Bad & The Rugby by Mark Farrer today, and this post is packed full of delightful things for you. I have an extract from the book, a link to a free download of the author’s previous book and a giveaway to enter. See, I’m really spoiling you today! My thanks to Emma Welton of damp pebbles blog tours for inviting me to take part and to the author for allowing me to publish this extract from his book today.

Extract

“Big Paul was sweating like a gypsy with a mortgage. He was walking his dogs out over Minch Moor and the spring sunshine was unseasonably warm. As he walked, he was unconsciously playing fetch with his dogs. Ant would retrieve the scabby old tennis ball from the undergrowth and trot back to Paul with it in his mouth; Paul would extract the slobbering article from the dog’s soiled mouth and mindlessly throw it overarm, whereupon Dec would take up the chase, find the ball and bring it back. The three participants all knew their roles and played them on auto-pilot – the only difference being that whilst the dogs were having a rare old time of it, Paul was otherwise occupied. Whilst they happily snuffled and frolicked in the heather, weeing up against the small conifers, Paul had other things on his mind.

Well, one other thing.

Shirley.

Paul and Shirley had been a thing for over a year now and whilst all was lovey and, indeed, dovey on the surface, even Paul’s atrociously underdeveloped senses were picking up signs that Shirley was dissatisfied at the moment. What the problem was, and what he could or should do about it, however, were issues which completely evaded him.

He ran his mental slide rule over the problem at hand. First off, he obviously couldn’t ask her what the problem was. Noooo. Schoolboy error. Asking a woman what the matter was merely opened you up to an accusation that you were insensitive, unfeeling or insufficiently engaged in the relationship. A man should know what the problem was – since, usually, it was the man that was the problem.

On the other hand, maybe he could resolve the situation by buying her some flowers. Didn’t even matter, then, if the problem was real or all in his imagination. Flowers would fix it, if it existed; if it didn’t, she would love them anyway. What woman doesn’t love flowers? 

That’d sort it. If he had money. 

Flowers were expensive and right now Paul had a minor cashflow problem. Again. Buying flowers was a ten pound solution to a five pound problem. He tried to recall when he’d last bought Shirley flowers. Her birthday, was it? Shit! Had he missed her birthday? No, that was September the somethingth. He made a mental note to see if he could somehow pry free the actual date from her later.

Anniversary then? How long had they been together now? He couldn’t recall buying her anything for an anniversary, or celebrating one with her. And he’d have remembered if Shirley had proudly presented him with a card and a gift one day only to discover that he had no clue what was going on. He’d not forget a real dignity-stripper event like that.

So there was still time. Cool! He didn’t know how much time, right enough, but he wasn’t too late. That in itself was a novelty he was prepared to relish while it lasted. Pleased with this mental exertion, he corralled his dogs off the moor and onto the track heading down to the car park. So, if their anniversary was coming up. And he had no money. What exactly was he going to do?

“No.” Cullen had said.

“Why not?”

“Neither a borrower or a lender be.”

“But it’s only a few quid! I’ll pay you back.”

“That is not the point.”

“Well, what is the point?”

“I’ve just told you.”

“Aw, fuck.” Paul’s huge shoulders heaved beneath his black T-shirt. “You realise this’ll ruin me and Shirl?” Cullen remained impassive while Paul rumbled around the sink and poured boiling water from the kettle. “It’s alright for you. You don’t have a partner. You don’t have to consider anyone ‘cept yourself. Me and Shirl – we’ve got a good thing going here. Don’t want to fuck it up.”

“In that case you should have thought about buying her an anniversary gift.”

“I have! That’s why I need the money.”

“Beforehand.” Cullen emphasised. “It’s called budgeting. Planning. Thinking ahead.”

“I am thinking ahead.” Paul slopped a mug down in front of Cullen. “I’m thinking of what it’s like trying to find a potential partner once you’re past forty.”

“By a considerable margin.”

“Alright, Methuselah. I’m still younger than you.”

Cullen regarded the muddy liquid in the mug in front of him. “I didn’t want tea. You know I don’t drink tea.”

“Well I’ve made it now so get it down you.”

Cullen took a sip and grimaced. “What is this?”

“I’ve told you. It’s a nice hot cup of tea. Get it down you.”

“Hmm. Let’s not be so free and easy with the noun tea here, shall we?”

“Thought you said you didn’t drink tea?”

“I don’t.” Cullen put the mug down. “And I’m not going to. I think what we have here is… a cup of hot. Let’s just leave it at that, hmm?”

“Everyone’s a critic.” Paul snarked. “Look. My point is, once you get past forty, finding a potential partner… it’s like trying to find a parking space in Sainsbury’s. They’re either taken, handicapped, or w-a-a-a-a-y out there.”

“Like I said. Thinking ahead. You should try it sometime.”

“Thanks, pal. Thanks a fucking lot.”

Cullen sighed and looked at his friend thoughtfully. “You know what you should do?”

“No.” Said Paul. “What?”

“Trust the soup.”

Trust the soup was Paul’s unofficial motto. His official motto was: Ah, That’ll do.

What trust the soup boiled down to was: don’t worry, be happy, something will turn up, the universe will provide and everything will be alright, you’ll see. Paul had, it was true, come to rely upon this to the extent that he  repeatedly pushed the very fabric of the universe to its limits, in attempting to fulfil its duty to provide. But it usually came through, so Paul continued to push, while the universe continued to heave and sweat and toil and still, somehow, deliver. If Paul had been a reader of management theory (or, come to that, a reader), he would have realised that what he had managed to do – very successfully – was outsource the need to worry. To the point where the outside observer might even replace the term outsource with the verb abdicate.

He unlocked his van and slid the door open for his dogs to leap in but only Dec obliged. He sat obediently on the dirty towel, draped over a couple of bags of finishing plaster, while Paul did his best to wipe most of the mud off his legs and belly. 

“Ant, mate?” Paul looked round. “Here boy!”

When the dog didn’t materialise, Paul gave a loud whistle and looked back up the hill to see if he had absently left him stranded somewhere on the trail. He heard a series of barks behind him and turned to spot a tail stump wagging excitedly in the bushes at the edge of the hard scrabble area.

“Mate!” Paul shouted, but Ant resolutely stayed put. Paul let out a deep breath, pointed at Dec to stay, and strode over to the bushes.

Ant was scratching around in the dirt and when Paul pulled him away he saw a glint of gold shining up through the soil and brambles. He reached down and picked up a dirty sack with a torn neck and peeled back the sacking to reveal a large silver trophy on a mahogany base. It was inscribed The Ladies Cup, Melrose Rugby Club and some smaller cursive writing that Paul’s eyesight couldn’t make out. 

Ant returned his nose to the shallow hole and continued scrabbling and scooping earth back between his hind legs. 

“Mate! Come away. I think you’ve found the treasure.” He reached down and grabbed Ant by the collar, dragging him out of the bushes while the dog continued to resist. When Paul had wrestled the determined creature back into full daylight he saw more gold glinting in the dog’s mouth. He held Ant’s snout and put his fingers into the dog’s mouth to prise its teeth apart. What dropped into his grimy hand was a necklace on a gold chain. The pendant on the necklace was a gold disc with S S on one side and a centred H on the other. Paul flicked it with a finger and the small disc spun quickly round, creating the appearance of a single side bearing the initials SHS.

Well, bugger me, thought Paul. SHS. Shirley Harriet Simpson.

The soup had truly outdone itself this time.”

If this has whetted your appetite for more, you can order your copy of the book here.

And if you would like to take advantage of a free download of Mark’s previous book, Dirty Barry, you can find that link here.

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Giveaway

As if all that wasn’t enough, we have a giveaway of 2 bookmarks featuring the covers of all four of Mark Farrer’s books, all you have to do is click on the Rafflecopter link below.

Please note this a UK only giveaway.  The 14 winners will be selected at random and your postal address will be passed onto Mark Farrer.  There is no cash alternative.  The giveaway ends of midnight (GMT) on 16th November 2018.  Any personal information stored by the Rafflecopter giveway will be deleted after the winners have been drawn.

Rafflecopter

To read some reviews of The Good, The Bad & The Rugby and other great content, check out the rest of the blog tour on the poster below:

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About the Author

Mark Farrer

Mark was born in Liverpool, studied Computer Science at Hull University, then had a successful career in IT management in London and the South-East for twenty years before moving to Edinburgh in 2001. He continued working in IT until 2015 when he decided to retire from the rat race and focus on becoming a writer. He now spends half his time writing and the other half worrying why he is not yet making money from writing.

The Good, The Bad & The Rugby is Mark’s third comic novel featuring a morally righteous loner called Cullen. He also has a perma-free novella on Amazon, called Dirty Barry, which tells how Cullen and Big Paul first met. He is currently at work on a second novella, called Bronchial Billy.

Mark has three children, one at University, one on a gap year in Ghana, and one still at High School. He lives with his partner Claire, a photographer, near West Linton, in the Scottish Borders.

He likes: his Mini Cooper, songwriting, playing piano, vanilla panna cotta, The Beatles, woodburning stoves, wittertainment, Bill Bailey, #sadmanonatrain, fruit gums, Carl Hiaasen, The Wire, spicy food, Van Gogh, Lindsey Buckingham, oaked chardonnay, House MD, long walks, cinema, reading in bed, florentines, Only Connect, board games, Otis Lee Crenshaw, Budweiser, GBBO, India, cheese, David Armand’s mimes, bookshops, Scandi Noir, Diet Coke, The Economist, Blackadder, good sausages, Dickens, Helena Bonham-Carter (secret crush), the Times crossword, the song mmmbop, and pies.

And lists.

He dislikes: ITV, pinot grigio, tattoos, ballet, ready meals, rap, religion, clutter, artificial raspberry flavouring, marmite, jazz, under-powered showers, people who don’t look after their stuff, opera, sprouts, and waste.

And mashed potato.

He really doesn’t like mashed potato.

Connect with Mark:

Website: http://markfarrer.com

Facebook: Mark Farrer

Twitter: @mark_farrer

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Fierce Grace by Jess B. Moore #BookReview #BlogTour (@authorjessb) @crookedcatbooks @RaRaResources #FierceGrace #RachelsRandomResources

Fierce Grace

Back in July I read an amazing book which has become one of my favourites of the year (read my review of The Guilt of the Sparrow here), so I am delighted to be taking part today in the blog tour for the author’s new book, Fierce Grace. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for offering me a place on the tour and to the author and publisher for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly.

Fierce Grace Cover

“Annabelle Dare is in a good place. She landed a sweet job, teaching at the quaint Fox River Elementary School. She has everything she needs: teaching music and sharing an apartment with her best friend. A simple life, she’s convinced, is all she needs.    

Asher Grace knows who he is and what he has to offer. Nothing. A poor boy from the wrong side of town, steel worker, with too much weight on his shoulders as he is trying to hold his family together. Best choice is avoiding too-sweet-for-her-own-good Annabelle at all costs.    

Annabelle falls in love with the way she comes to life with Asher. He awakens a hunger for life and love in her that she didn’t know she possessed.  

Asher must learn his worth beyond his upbringing and his past. Annabelle must learn to stoke the fire of life as it burns within her and learn how close she can get before the flames lick her. “

This is the second book by Jess B. Moore set in Fox River, a small town on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains and some of the characters from The Guilt of the Sparrow make cameo appearances but this is a whole new story focusing on a different set of central characters so it is effectively a standalone novel and can be read and enjoyed as such by anyone.

What it does have in common with the first book is that it is a character-driven story that deals with the internal, emotional lives of two people, Annabelle and Asher, who are starting out in a relationship and how they explore and develop that relationship in the midst of pressures from their families and histories. As such, there are no major dramas or huge happenings in the book. It is a story about the small, ordinary lives of real people.

Jess is brilliant at drawing characters and really delving into their psyches and pulling out what makes them tick for us the examine and understand. The people come alive on the page and the reader is able to get right under their skin and explore their thoughts and emotions, live their experiences right along with them. Her writing is very powerful and for people who are interested in the psychology of human behaviour and like this kind of story, this is as intimate as writing gets and it can’t fail to move you.

But…and I hate that there is a but because I wanted to love this book as much as the first one …but I didn’t. There was something blocking me from falling in love with this book and I have thought hard about what it is before sitting down to write the review. I think part of it is that the first book was written from the perspective of both protagonists and this was what made me so involved in their story, as we could see it develop from both sides and it felt extremely intimate. In this book, we only get Annabelle’s perspective. I thought maybe I just didn’t relate to Annabelle as much, and this probably was part of it.; I just didn’t get her, I don’t think. For someone supposedly so independent, she seemed a little weak and needy and I couldn’t quite buy in to the fact that this was all caused by unaccustomed vulnerability due to love. It just didn’t quite ring true. I believe my main problem, though, was that this relationship didn’t feel like a particularly healthy one, especially for Annabelle. Even her friend, Kendra, expresses this concern multiple times, right to the very end of the book, so it was obviously something the writer was conscious of and I am just not a fan of books portraying women willingly staying in unhealthy, unbalanced relationships. I don’t find it appealing or romantic, particularly in a modern, rather than historical, setting.

It may have helped if we could get a better handle on Asher’s perspective, as in the first book with Cotton, but we only get Annabelle’s interpretation of what Asher is thinking, which is inevitably skewed. I am sure the writer had a different take on his feelings which just didn’t translate through into the book for me. I also understand that this is just my interpretation of the book and how I felt about it. The literary canon is littered with books where there are romances between unequal partners that people adore. It just doesn’t suit my tastes in a modern setting, I’m afraid.

There is no doubt that this book is beautifully written and the characters vividly brought to life and their emotions explored. I loved the setting again, and a lot of the subsidiary characters are fascinating and I hope Jess returns to Fox River to explore some of their stories further. I am sure many people will love the central relationship in this book, and maybe read it and find a different perspective on it and reaction to it, this is a very personal response. I also think that I maybe I had too high expectations after my reaction to book one which were possibly never going to be met. You should definitely read this book and be your own judge. The story held me throughout, it just didn’t worm its way into my heart this time.

Fierce Grace is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour, visit the blogs listed on the poster below:

Fierce Grace Full Tour Banner

About the Author

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Jess B Moore is a writer of love stories.  When she’s not writing, she’s busy mothering her talented and stubborn children, reading obscene numbers of books, and knitting scarves she’ll likely never finish.

Jess lives in small town North Carolina with her bluegrass obsessed family.  She takes too many pictures of her cat, thinking the Internet loves him as much as she does.  She is a firm believer of swapping stories over coffee or wine, and that there should always be dark chocolate involved.

Connect with Jess:

Website: https://jessbmoore.com

Facebook: Jess B. Moore

Twitter: @authorjessb

Instagram: @authorjessb

Goodreads: Jess B. Moore

One Way Ticket To Paris by Emma Robinson #BookReview #BlogTour (@emmarobinsonuk) @bookouture #PublicationDay #OneWayTicketToParis #NetGalley

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“When I was a kid and I’d lost something, my dad always said ‘Go back to the place you last had it’. The problem is that what I’ve lost is… me.

Kate loves her family more than anything, but recently she has started to feel invisible. Lying awake at three a.m. as her husband snores, panicking about shopping lists, birthday parties, and the school bake sale…

She finds herself in the kitchen, gulping water, staring at a postcard of the Eiffel Tower from Shannon, her best friend.

Paris, with its red wine, slippery cobbles and curly lamp posts. Where the scent of freshly-baked croissants hangs in the air, and Kate last remembers feeling like herself.

The postcard is a year old. It has just one line on it: When are you coming?

An inspiring, feel-good tale of friendship, love, and what happens when running away is the only way you can find your way home.”

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for One Way Ticket To Paris by Emma Robinson. My thanks to Kim Nash at Bookouture for inviting me to take part and for my copy of the book via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially. Today is Publication Day for this book, so I hope you have a marvellous day, Emma.

I haven’t read anything previously by this author so I am coming to her writing fresh and, having read this book I am wondering why I haven’t discovered her before.

This story is really fresh and enticing from first page to last as we follow the lives of three women dealing with personal crises, as they all come together in Paris. Kate is a mum-of-two wondering where she lost herself along the way and how to find herself again. Laura is sick of waiting for her life to move on with boyfriend, James and Shannon wonders if she is ready for the next step in her life or if she is still running from the past.

Any woman reading this book will recognise some facet of herself or something she has been through in the lives of one of these women and the author does a really fantastic job of building real women with real lives who are relatable to all of us. They were all the kind of people we know or who are friends with and whose problems are very real and relevant.

I had particular sympathy with Kate who finds herself trying too hard to be the perfect mum, and judging her success in the eyes of the other mums who she deems to be doing a better job. I am sure any of us who have children will be familiar with the pressure we put on ourselves to be the very best mum our children deserve and the guilt we feel when we believe we are failing and the frustration that often the father of the children don’t feel the same pressure. The issues women have balancing motherhood and career and sense of self are very much at the forefront of society and I think that Emma does a really great job of reflecting the different pressures women are under in modern society in this book, but in a way that is not aggressive or preachy but warm and compelling.

I was hooked on this book from page one and once I had finished it I felt like I had spent a few hours with some really great friends pouring out their problems in to my sympathetic ear. Grab a glass of wine and settle down for a girl’s night in with this lovely book. I will definitely be looking for other titles by this author; this is just the type of female-focused fiction that I enjoy reading.

One Way Ticket To Paris is out today and you can get your copy here.

This book is on a blog tour for the next three days so make sure you check out the rest of the stops on the tour:

OWTTP - Blog Tour

About the Author

Emma

Emma Robinson thinks of herself as one of the ‘Bridget Jones generation’ – who are now grown up and having children – and writes novels for women who feel the same.

She also has a blog, Motherhood for Slackers, which takes a humorous look at parenthood, and includes poems such as ‘Dear Teacher’ about her son starting school which has been shared around the world. Emma is an English teacher and lives in Essex with a patient husband and two children who are an endless source of material.

Connect with Emma:

Website: https://motherhoodforslackers.com

Facebook: Motherhood For Slackers

Twitter: @emmarobinsonuk

Instagram: @emmarobinsonuk

The Cornish Village School – Second Chances by Kitty Wilson #BlogTour #BookReview (@KittyWilson23) @canelo_co #TheCornishVillageSchool #SecondChances #NetGalley

I’m really thrilled to be on the blog tour today for the second book in The Cornish Village School series by Kitty Wilson, Second Chances. I really enjoyed the first book in the series, Breaking The Rules (you can read my review of that book here) and I can’t wait to go back to Penmenna and see what has been happening. My thanks to Ellie Pilcher at Canelo for inviting me to be part of the tour for the new book and for my copy of the book via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

The Cornish Village School Second Chances Cover

“Ex-ballerina and single mum Sylvie is in trouble. Juggling her ballet classes in the nearest town, preparing shy Sam for his first day at Penmenna Village school and trying to finally move out from the farm she shares with her cantankerous Uncle Tom means life is anything but easy.

Television Journalist Alex is facing challenges of his own. Seeking a calmer environment for his newly adopted daughter, Ellie, he’s swapped reporting in war zones for the school PTA in quiet Penmenna, where his best friend Chase has persuaded him to start laying some roots.

Fireworks ignite when Sylvie and Alex meet but as Ellie and Sam become instant best friends, will they be able to keep things strictly platonic for the sake of the children?”

Although this is the second book in the series set in Penmenna, it is a completely new story and it really isn’t necessary to have read the first book at all to enjoy this one, it can be read completely as a standalone. Some of my favourite characters from book one reappear, but the focus is on new characters and I think the author has been very clever in making sure she pleases readers returning eagerly from book one without alienating new readers.

This time the story focuses on Sylvia and Alex, two single parents dealing with the day to day issues which that situation inevitably brings whilst also trying to resist the attraction growing between them for the sake of their children, who have become best friends.

You pretty much know what to expect from this type of book looking at the cover and the blurb and there are no major surprises in that regard but it is a lovely example of a book in the genre. The characters are genuine and honest and I was totally invested in their story. Kitty writes the children and their lives particularly well I think and I really loved this aspect of the book. The secondary characters are great additions – I particularly love Marion from book one who continues to add great comedy to the book, and the new character of Uncle Tom – no one is wasted, everyone is there for a reason.

Kitty does a great job of balancing humour, romance and genuine stories of people’s lives and her writing is warm and approachable. I love the setting of the little village in Cornwall, which she uses without over-working it. All in all, another fabulous book that I would highly recommend.

To get your copy of the book, click on this link.

To follow the rest of the tour and find some alternative opinions, check out the poster below:

Second Chances blog tour (2)

About the Author

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Kitty Wilson has lived in Cornwall for the last twenty-five years having been dragged there, against her will, as a stroppy teen. She is now remarkably grateful to her parents for their foresight and wisdom – and that her own children aren’t as hideous. She spends most of her time welded to the keyboard or hiding out at the beach and has a penchant for very loud music, equally loud dresses and romantic heroines who speak their mind.

Connect with Kitty:

Twitter: @KittyWilson123

Purgatory Hotel by Anne-Marie Ormsby #BookReview (@AMOrmsby) @crookedcatbooks #HalloweenReading #booklove #PurgatoryHotel

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“Dakota Crow has been murdered, her body dumped in a lonely part of the woods, and nobody knows but her and her killer.

Stranded in Purgatory, a rotting hotel on the edge of forever, with no memory of her death, Dakota knows she must have done something bad to be stranded among murderers and rapists. To get to somewhere safer, she must hide from the shadowy stranger stalking her through the corridors of the hotel, and find out how to repent for her sins.

But first she must re-live her life.

Soon she will learn about her double life, a damaging love affair, terrible secrets, and lies that led to her violent death.

Dakota must face her own demons, and make amends for her own crimes before she can solve her murder and move on.

But when she finds out what she did wrong, will she be truly sorry?”

Having been offered the chance to review this book, I decided it would be a good one to read around this time of year when we are all looking for something spooky or scary to get our pulses racing as the nights draw in and, having read it, I can confirm it will definitely do that, but it also offers so much more than simple scares.

This is an intelligent book, which explores a lot of fairly existential questions in a really innovative storyline and I was very drawn in to the story and the questions raised, to the extent that I am still thinking about some of them today. The story is quite disturbing, as you would expect from the cover image and the blurb, and it does not pull back from giving you uncomfortable and graphic detail, but it is not sensationalist for the sake of it. There is a point to everything in the story, and a very provocative and inciting point which I really enjoyed about the book.

The setting is a hotel in the Afterlife where people who have done bad things in their life on Earth are stranded, trying to work out what they did wrong and how to atone for their crimes so they can get to Heaven, so this place is full of the worst people who lived on Earth and many of them are really not interested in atoning at all. Dakota is stranded amongst these terrifying people, unaware of what has happened to her and desperate to find out what happened so she can get out. But sometimes the truth hurts.

The author manages to build a very disturbing and sinister world in this hotel that will work its way under your skin and into your subconscious and give you the creeps. I was reminded strongly of the Hotel Cortez in Season 5 of American Horror Story. But more than that, the process that Dakota has to go through after death was ever more chilling and raised the hairs on the back of my neck as I read this under the covers.

One minor issue I had was that the book possibly started to drag in places three-quarters of the way in when I would have liked more drama and less of the reading, and I think the author could have gone even further with some of the interactions with the other patrons of the hotel, to really bring the horror of this place to life. I also felt that the storyline regarding Danny was slightly too much of a coincidence and could have been omitted without affecting the book at all. However, this did not really detract from the overall power of the book for me and I was gripped from start to finish.

The author was very skilled in her use of imagery and language to bring this original world to frightful life and the characters were really well-developed and authentic, despite being deeply flawed. I really believed in them, even though they were in a largely fantastical environment. The story development is skilful and the overall book works really well. I can highly recommend it. It would particularly appeal to fans of Stephen King, I think; someone who is looking for a horror story with a little bit more to it.

Purgatory Hotel is out now. To get it in time for Halloween, order it here.

About the Author

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On a warm day in July 1978, a mother was admitted to hospital, awaiting the arrival of her new baby. She was reading Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie and the midwives thought it a gruesome choice for an expectant mother. A story of a long forgotten murder and repressed memories. As it turned out her new baby, Anne-Marie would grow up and find herself drawn to all things macabre, and would one day herself turn out a story of murder and memories lost.

Anne Marie grew up on the Essex coast with her parents and six siblings in a house that was full of books and movies and set the scene for her lifelong love of both.

She began writing short stories when she was still at primary school after reading the book The October Country by Ray Bradbury. He was and still is her favourite author and the reason she decided at age 9 that she too would be a writer someday.

In her teens she continued to write short stories and branched out into poetry, publishing a few in her late teens. In her early twenties she began committing herself to writing a novel and wrote one by the age of 20 that she then put away, fearing it was too weird for publication.

She wrote Purgatory Hotel over several years, but again kept it aside after several rejections from publishers. Luckily for her, she found a home for her twisted tale with Crooked Cat Books.

Her favourite authors include Ray Bradbury, Jack Kerouac, Stephen King, Denis Lehane and Douglas Coupland. She also takes great inspiration from music and movies, her favourite artists being Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Johnny Cash, Interpol, David Lynch and David Fincher.

Anne-Marie moved to London in 2008 where she lives to this day, amidst books and DVDs, with her husband and daughter.

Connect with Anne-Marie:

Website: https://www.annemarieormsby.com

Facebook: Anne-Marie Ormsby

Twitter: @amormsby

Instagram: @pirateburlesque

Goodreads: Anne-Marie Ormsby

Reprobation by Catherine Fearns #BookReview #BlogTour (@metalmamawrites) @crookedcatbooks @rararesources #Reprobation #Giveaway #RachelsRandomResources

Reprobation

Today is my turn on the blog tour for Reprobation by Catherine Fearns. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part, and to the author for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially. Make sure you read right down to the end of the review to enter a fantastic giveaway.

Reprobation Cover

“Are you one of the elect?

Dr. Helen Hope is a lecturer in eschatology – the study of death, judgement, and the destiny of humankind. She is also a Calvinist nun, her life devoted to atoning for a secret crime.

When a body is found crucified on a Liverpool beach, she forms an unlikely alliance with suspect Mikko Kristensen, lead guitarist in death metal band Total Depravity. Together, they go on the trail of a rogue geneticist who they believe holds the key – not just to the murder, but to something much darker.

Also on the trail is cynical Scouse detective Darren Swift. In his first murder case, he must confront his own lack of faith as a series of horrific crimes drag the city of two cathedrals to the gates of hell.

Science meets religious belief in this gripping murder mystery.”

I often talk here on the blog about how much I love certain book covers and how they would entice me to buy the book, but I don’t think I’ve ever said before that I dislike a cover. I really don’t like this one though. I can honestly say, I would never pick up a book with this scary-ass nun on the cover in a book shop!

However, to be put off this book by the cover would be a mistake because the book itself is quite a revelation and one I am extremely glad I read, although I still have not 100% made up my mind how I feel about it; I am still sifting through a lot of the questions it raised in my head; and it is an extremely difficult book to categorise, as it has so many different strands going on within it, some of which are in direct contrast to one another. It is a very original book, very different to anything else I have read.

At heart it is a crime thriller, with a body turning up in gruesome circumstances on Crosby beach, swiftly followed by another, with a third person going missing, leaving a distasteful clue behind. The murders seem to have an element of religious symbolism, so the police turn to a Calvinist nun (yes, really) to help unravel its meaning. She, in turn, finds a link to a death metal band (yes, really) and..well, the story just gets more complicated and bizarre as it goes along. You’ll have to read it for yourself if you would like to know how it all fits together.

This book, aside from the criminal puzzle, explores a lot of very interesting but disparate subjects. Religious beliefs, life after death, genetics, the existence of good and evil, predestination, the different sub-genres of heavy metal. The author has obviously done a lot of research on these topics which shows in the writing and it is fascinating to read. Some of the theological debates lost me ever so slightly along the way, but the questions raised are riveting to think about, and of a scale not normally tackled in this type of book. I actually think this is an immensely brave novel.

In contrast, parts of this books actually struck me as quite funny in their ludicrousness. Particularly some of the situations that Helen and Mikko find themselves in together, as they are so unlikely, and Sister Mary. Despite the heavy subject matter and some of the imagery, which is extremely violent and graphic, the book had a certain levity to it, which was surprising but also welcome, I think, to help the reader through and stop us being dragged down by the enormity of the topics discussed.

The setting, on the barren and hostile shores of a wintertime Northern coast really fit the atmosphere and set the tone of the book and was completely right. The characters were all well-developed, if extremely unusual, and overall it was really well written. This is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but I found it refreshing and thought-provoking and relished its challenge. I still don’t like the cover, though.

Reprobation is out now and you can get your copy here.

Giveaway

Reprobation merch

 

To enter the giveaway to win a gift pack which would include signed book, tote bag, t-shirt, magnet, guitar picks, temporary tattoos and postcards, simply click the Rafflecopter link below:

Rafflecopter

*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.

To follow the rest of the blog tour for this book, visit the blogs listed below:

Reprobation Full Tour Banner

About the Author

Reprobation 4 (1)

Catherine Fearns is a writer from Liverpool, UK. Her first novel, a crime thriller called ‘Reprobation’, will be published by Crooked Cat Books in October 2018. As a music journalist Catherine is a regular contributor to Pure Grain Audio, and she has also published numerous pieces of short fiction and non-fiction.Catherine has a degree from Oxford University and a Masters from the London School of Economics. She began her career as a financial analyst, but after having four children she retrained as a breastfeeding counsellor. Having lived in several countries, she recently moved to Switzerland, where she discovered her love of writing and is a member of the Geneva Writers’ Group. She plays the piano very well but prefers to play the guitar very badly. Oh, and she likes metal music. A lot. 

Connect with Catherine:

Website: https://www.catherine-fearns.com

Facebook: Catherine Fearns

Twitter: @metalmamawrites