#BookReview: THE PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE LOST by Caroline Scott @CScottBooks @simonschusterUK @BookMinxSJV @TeamBATC @jessbarratt88

The Photographer of the LostPublication: 31st October 2019 – Simon & Schuster UK

In the aftermath of war, everyone is searching for answers . . .
An epic novel of forbidden love, loss, and the shattered hearts left behind in the wake of World War I.

1921. Families are desperately trying to piece together the fragments of their broken lives. While many survivors of the Great War have been reunited with their loved ones, Edie’s husband Francis has not come home. He is considered ‘missing in action’, but when Edie receives a mysterious photograph taken by Francis in the post, hope flares. And so she begins to search.

Harry, Francis’s brother, fought alongside him. He too longs for Francis to be alive, so they can forgive each other for the last things they ever said. Both brothers shared a love of photography and it is that which brings Harry back to the Western Front. Hired by grieving families to photograph gravesites, as he travels through battle-scarred France gathering news for British wives and mothers, Harry also searches for evidence of his brother.

And as Harry and Edie’s paths converge, they get closer to a startling truth.

An incredibly moving account of an often-forgotten moment in history, The Photographer of the Lost tells the story of the thousands of soldiers who were lost amid the chaos and ruins, and the even greater number of men and women desperate to find them again.

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Before you start reading The Photographer of the Lost get ready your tissues, because you’ll need them. I fell in love with this unforgettable, heartbreaking, and evocative story.

It’s 1921, three years after the end of World War I, and yet for many people it’s like the war never ended. There are many many soldiers suffering from PTSD, there are many families grieving their loved ones, and there are many, too many, soldiers still missing in action whose fate is still unknown and, of course, there are people still looking for them. Harry and Edie are among these people. They are looking for Francis, Harry’s brother and Edie’s husband, who’s been missing for four years. Their journey through France between destroyed towns and the discarded items of soldiers is not just in search of the truth, but also a chance for forgiveness and new beginnings.

The Photographer of the Lost left me heartbroken and highly emotional. History books don’t tell the stories of the soldiers and their families, don’t tell the guilt of the soldiers who came home while others died on the battlefield (“Why should I have survived? Why, when others didn’t, did I have the right to come home?“), the loss and the suffering of the families. Caroline Scott created a haunting and powerful story that evocatively portrays this side of history I didn’t know much about.

As Harry and Edie try to find out more about Francis’s fate, they meet other people who are looking for their loved ones, they meet English soldiers who, after the war, couldn’t face going home or didn’t want to leave behind those who died there. Harry is not only looking for his brother, he is also taking pictures of graveyards. This part of the story hit me and left in tears. Parents, wives, brothers, and sisters who didn’t have the chance to go over to France and visit the place where their loved ones are buried, paid Harry to take a picture of their last resting place.

As I said, grab the tissues and settle down for an beautiful, moving, and captivating story that you won’t be able to put down.

A huge thank you to SJ Virtue and Simon & Schuster for providing me with a proof copy of this brilliant novel.

 

#BlogTour: THE CHRISTMAS CALENDAR GIRLS by Samantha Tonge @SamTongeWriter @Aria_Fiction

Book coverPublication: 3rd October 2019 – Aria

This Christmas fall in love with the town of Chesterwood…

Christmas is meant to be a time of giving, so with Chesterwood food bank under risk of closure Fern knows just what to do to save it. She’s going to get the town to create a living advent calendar.

Fern, and her best friends, call for help from the local community to bring this calendar to life. When Kit, the new man in town, offers his assistance Fern’s heart can’t help but skip a beat (or two).

As they grow ever closer, Fern must admit that Kit’s breaking down the barriers she built after the death of her husband. But his past is holding him back and Fern doesn’t know how to reach him. No matter how hard she tries.

In this town, Kit’s not the only one with secrets. Domestic goddess Cara is behaving oddly, burning meals in the oven and clothes whilst ironing, and Davina’s perfect children are causing trouble at school leaving her son, Jasper, desperately unhappy.

Can the Christmas Calendar Girls find a way to bring the community together in time to save the food bank, while still supporting their families and each other? Can Fern find love again with Kit?

This is a story about kindness and letting go of the past. It’s about looking out for your neighbours and about making every day feel like Christmas.

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Christmas Calendar Girls, the new festive novel by Samantha Tonge. A huge thank you to Victoria Joss and Aria for inviting me to join the blog tour and providing me with a copy of the novel.

The protagonist of the novel is Fern. A freelance journalist with a young daughter, she moved to Chesterwood three years earlier after the premature death of her husband. Although part of her is still grieving, she thinks it is time to move on, especially as her friendship with Kit seems to become something more. However, Fern has other things to worry about besides her love life. The local food bank is about to be closed because the rent is too high. To try and save the place that is so important for many people around the area, Fern organize a living calendar event around town to raise money. Also, she is worried about her two best friends. Perfect wife and mother Cara who has always everything under control has become very forgetful and distracted while Davina is worried about her children’s strange behaviour. Will Fern be able to make it to Christmas without much drama? (Don’t count on it!)

October is the month of Christmas reads and I lost count of how many Christmas books I have read so far, but I enjoyed each one of them including The Christmas Calendar Girls. The author created a protagonist that feels authentic and relatable from the very beginning. You can feel her pain as she remembers her husband, but you also cheer her on as she tries to build a new life without him. She is compassionate and caring, working hard to help the homeless of the village. She is always ready to help others and, in the meantime, she has a job to do and a daughter to raise.

I loved the community feeling and the Christmas atmosphere that together make a fantastic Christmas novel. An enjoyable and uplifting novel about friendship, family, love, loss, and new beginnings, The Christmas Calendar Girls is one not to miss this Christmas season!

Follow the rest of the blog tour:

Samantha TongeSamantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK with her husband and children. She studied German and French at university and has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris. She has travelled widely.
When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee. Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories to women’s magazines.
She is represented by the Darley Anderson literary agency. In 2013, she landed a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins and in 2014, her bestselling debut, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award. In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category. In 2018 Forgive Me Not, heralded a new direction into darker women’s fiction with publisher Canelo. In 2019 she was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association romantic comedy award

 

Follow Samantha

Website: http://samanthatonge.co.uk/

Twitter: @SamTongeWriter

Facebook: @SamanthaTongeAuthor

Buy links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Z2u7NO

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2YgggEa

iBooks: https://apple.co/2yXpzJU

Google Play: https://bit.ly/2Z8YiTO

Follow Aria

Website: www.ariafiction.com

Twitter: @aria_fiction

Facebook: @ariafiction

Instagram: @ariafiction

#BookReview: INTO THE CROOKED PLACE by Alexandra Christo @alliechristo @HotKeyBooks

Into The Crooked PlacePublication: 8th October 2019 – Hot Key Books

Magic rules the city of Creije Capital and Tavia Syn knows just how many tricks she needs up her sleeve to survive. Selling dark magic on the streets for her kingpin, she keeps clear of other crooks, counting the days until her debt is paid and she can flee her criminal life.

But then, one day, with her freedom in sight, Tavia uncovers a sinister plot that threatens to destroy the realm she calls home. Desperate to put an end to her kingpin’s plan, Tavia forms an unlikely alliance with three crooks even more deadly than her:

Wesley, the kingpin’s prodigy and most renewed criminal in the realm

Karam, an underground fighter with a penchant for killing first and forgetting to ask questions

And Saxony, a Crafter in hiding who will stop at nothing to avenge her family

With the reluctant saviours assembled, they embark on a quest to put an end to the dark magic before it’s too late. But even if they can take down the kingpin and save the realm, the one thing they can’t do is trust each other.

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What an addictive read!!! I spent a weekend reading and enjoying Into The Crooked Place and I can’t wait to read the sequel. The plot is captivating and magical, the characters are fantastic, and it ended with a fantastic and shocking cliff-hanger that left me desperate for more.

The protagonists are four crooks: Wesley is the underboss in Creije, the kingpin’s golden boy, but with his own plans for the future; Tavia sells magic hoping to gain her freedom; Karam is a fierce guard with a secret to hide; and Saxony is a fighter looking for revenge. They form an unlikely team and go on a dangerous and revealing journey to get rid of the cruel kingpin and save the kingdom.

First of all, I loved the characters. Wesley, Tavia, Karam, and Saxony are engaging and very well-crafted. They argue, they support and protect each other, they are loyal. Even when they argue, I side with each of them. They all have a dramatic and horrific past that it is slowly unravalled and make for a serious and thought-provoking read while the easy banters and the witty exchanges between the characters made me smile. The story is told from different points of views so that the reader gets to know the characters’ dynamics as the story develops and really appreciate them. My favourite character is Tavia. She is stubborn and determined and I admired her loyalty to Wesley.

There is magic, there is adventure, there is romance, and there is friendship. The writing style is clear and captivating, the plot is intriguing and full of surprises, and, as I said, the characters are awesome. This is my first novel by Alexandra Christo so now I am going to read her debut novel To Kill A Kingdom, while I wait for the sequel to Into The Crooked Place which I highly recommend to all fantasy lovers!

A huge thank you to Hot Key Books and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this fantastic novel.

#BookReview: THE STRANGER INSIDE by Lisa Unger @lisaunger @HQstories @joe_thomas25

81Atv6xMooLPublication: 3rd October 2019 – HQ

You committed the perfect crime. But someone knows the truth.

You followed the trial obsessively.

You know he’s guilty and can’t believe he got away with it.

But someone is determined to see justice done.

Rain Winter left journalism behind to focus on her baby daughter. But when a man acquitted for murder is killed, in the same way as his suspected victims, Rain sees a pattern emerging between a series of cold cases.

Meticulous and untraceable, this killer strikes in the dead of night, making sure that the guilty are suitably punished for their crimes.

As Rain’s investigation deepens, she must face up to dark secrets in her own past and the realisation that the killer may be closer than she thinks…

From bestselling author Lisa Unger comes a dark and addictive psychological suspense which will keep you breathless until the last page.

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I am always excited when Lisa Unger publishes a new novel. Her stories are compelling, suspenseful, and gripping and I always find myself engrossed in the plot and intrigued by the characters.

In her new novel, The Stranger Inside, we have an excellent journalist who left her job to be a stay-at-home mum. However, Rain Winter is much more than that. She is haunted by a trauma in her past that left her scarred and full of guilt. The event that changed her life when she was twelve years old and involved her two best friends has still consequences in her life. After Steve Markham, a man accused of murdering his wife and walked out free is found killed, Rain decides to start her own investigation. Because Steve Markham is not the only guilty man who was found killed in the same circumstances as their victims…

What I love about Lisa Unger’s novel is that the tension never ever leaves the pages. There is a sense of dread as I turn each page that something bad is about to happen that makes it difficult to put her book down. Also, she knows how to create awesome and well-developed characters. They are multi-layered, dark, always full of surprises. I liked the protagonist of The Stranger Inside. From the outside, Rain Winter is a typical mother, a relatable woman who left her job to take care of her young daughter and now spends her days cooking, going to the park to join a group of mothers, and waiting for her husband in the evening. Inside, Rain is looking for revenge and closure. She is a survivor who hides her fear and anger for her past and we also see her struggle as her desire to go back to work compete with her love for her daughter. Rain is not the only protagonist of the story. I don’t want to say much about this character because I don’t want to give too much away, but just let me tell you that the complexity and different layers of this other character gave me goosebumps as I read.

Self-paced, claustrophobic, and thought-provoking, The Stranger Inside is another must-read from one of my favourite authors and I highly recommend it!

If you want to read an extract from The Stranger Inside, click HERE!

 

#BookReview: SLEEP by C. L. Taylor @callytaylor @AvonBooksUK

SleepPublication: 4th April 2019 (hardcover/eBook); 24th September 2019 (paperback) – Avon

All Anna wants is to be able to sleep. But crushing insomnia, terrifying night terrors and memories of that terrible night are making it impossible. If only she didn’t feel so guilty…

To escape her past, Anna takes a job at a hotel on the remote Scottish island of Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat from the world turns into a deadly nightmare.

Each of the guests have a secret, but one of them is lying – about who they are and why they’re on the island. There’s a murderer staying in the Bay View hotel. And they’ve set their sights on Anna.

Seven strangers. Seven secrets. One deadly lie.

The million-copy bestseller is back in her darkest, twistiest book to date. Read it if you dare! Perfect for fans of Lesley Kara’s The Rumour and Cara Hunter’s DI Fawley Thrillers.

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A tragic accident changed Anna’s life forever. Now she can’t sleep and someone is watching her and leaving her anonymous notes. So, she escapes her life in London and she finds refuge in a small and remote island in Scotland. She finds a job at the reception of the only hotel on the island. There are seven guests: a family of three, a retired woman, and three single people in their thirties. Except for one, they all seem nice and easy-going, but when they find themselves trapped in the hotel by bad weather, it is clear that one of the guests is dangerous and has their eyes on Anna.

Sleep captivated me from the beginning: ““If you’re reading this then I am no longer alive”. Wow, what a start!!! And what a story… Full of twists, secrets, and surprises, the tension always high, and a dark and claustrophobic atmosphere that make Sleep a gripping read.

Sleep deprivation and guilt make Anna suspicious and paranoid so that sometimes she seems an unreliable narrator and I do love unreliable narrators. Was someone really into her room in the middle of the night? And why all the guests in her hotel seem suspicious? Seeing the guests through Anna’s eyes, everyone is a suspect, a possible killer, even a fourteen-year-old girl, and this, together with the murderer’s narrative that never reveals too much, kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time.

I am ashamed to admit that this is my first novel by C. L. Taylor (I don’t know why I waited so long), but Sleep is a fantastic introduction to this author and I am eager to read more, so whether, like me, you never read any of her novels or you are already a fan, Sleep should be definitely on your TBR list!

A huge thank you to Avon and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this novel.

#BlogTour: SNOWFLAKES AT THE LITTLE CHRISTMAS TREE FARM by Jaimie Admans @be_the_spark @HQDigitalUK

44799648Publication: 9th October 2019 (eBook); 12th December 2019 (paperback) – HQ

All she wants for Christmas…

Leah Griffiths has woken up after a few too many glasses of Prosecco with a hangover – and discovers she’s accidentally bought a little Christmas tree farm in Scotland!

At first she’s horrified, but perhaps it’s the perfect way to forget all about her cheating ex.

And when she meets grumpy (but ridiculously gorgeous) pumpkin farmer Noel underneath the mistletoe, Leah begins to believe that at Christmas time, anything can happen…

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Snowflakes At The Little Christmas Tree Farm, the new romantic novel by Jaimie Admans. A big thank you to HQ and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of the novel.

Wine and a broken heart are never a good combination. Add an online auction and the consequences could be disastrous… or maybe not? Leah Griffiths has been fired after finding her boss/lover closed in his office with someone else and after a night drinking bottle after bottle of wine she wakes up the next morning to discover that she is the lucky winner of the online auction for the sale of a Christmas tree farm in Scotland. With nothing and no one to keep her in London, Leah packs her things and moves to Scotland but, when she arrives there, she finds out that the real Christmas tree farm is nothing at all what she saw in the pictures. Everything is in a state of despair and she knows nothing about trees. Luckily, handsome and grumpy neighbour Noel seems always to be there to help her and Leah has to work hard to make sure that the farm is ready for Christmas.

With humour, romance, and very informative details about tree farming (the author did her research!), Jaimie Admans created an entertaining Christmas novel. It’s heartwarming and so Christmassy and I enjoyed the close community atmosphere as everyone from the village help each other. The characters are very interesting and I especially liked Leah who is relatable and determined to succeed.

Love, friendship, hard work, and a festive atmosphere mix perfectly in this magical and engaging novel. This is only my second novel by Jaimie Admans and after reading Snowflakes At The Little Christmas Tree Farm I will certainly keep reading her and catch up with her previous novels.

Snowflakes at Little Xmas Tree Farm Banner

#BlogTour: A HOUSE OF GHOSTS by W. C. Ryan @WilliamRyan_ @ZaffreBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #AHouseOfGhosts

81kuPLWnAyLPublication: 3th October 2019 – Zaffre

Winter 1917. As the First World War enters its most brutal phase, back home in England, everyone is seeking answers to the darkness that has seeped into their lives.

At Blackwater Abbey, on an island off the Devon coast, Lord Highmount has arranged a spiritualist gathering to contact his two sons who were lost in the conflict. But as his guests begin to arrive, it gradually becomes clear that each has something they would rather keep hidden. Then, when a storm descends on the island, the guests will find themselves trapped. Soon one of their number will die.

For Blackwater Abbey is haunted in more ways than one . . .

An unrelentingly gripping mystery packed with twists and turns, A House of Ghosts is the perfect chilling read this winter.

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I am delighted to welcome you on my stop on the blog tour of A House of Ghosts, the suspenseful and engrossing new novel by W. C. Ryan. A huge thank you to Tracy Fenton for inviting me to join the blog tour and to Zaffrie for providing me with a copy of the novel.

A House of Ghosts is a bit historical novel, a bit spy-story, and a bit ghost story. I don’t know how, but the author managed to mix perfectly these three different genres and create a page-turner! The year is 1917 and people are dying all around Europe. In the meantime, in a small island off the coast of Devon, a few people reunite at Blackwater Abbey for a séance to recall their loved ones who died in the trenches. We read about parents grieving over the loss of their sons and sisters who hope to hear the voices of the brothers they lost. However, if this is a spiritualistic gathering, why is an undercover secret agent taking part to the meeting?

One of my favourite novels by Agatha Christie is And Then There Were None and that’s what A House of Ghosts reminds me. The suspenseful and gloomy atmosphere, the fact that no one can leave the island, murders, suspicion, and secrets… all of this reminded me of the novels of the Queen of Crime. The author adds séances, ghosts, and espionage making the story unique and hard to put down.

A House of Ghosts is not just mystery and crime, there is also a human side. With First World War still going strong on the continent, we read about the families left behind who don’t know if they will ever see again their loved ones and we read about the soldiers fighting for their lives and their country, trying to survive, and how the war still affects them once they go home. This side of the story is quite informative and thought-provoking, at times moving.

I truly enjoyed A House of Ghosts. I loved the captivating story and the engaging and sometimes colorful characters. Actually, I am hoping there will be more novels featuring the two protagonists, Evie and Donovan, as they go around the world as secret agents… I would definitely read more of their stories. Highly recommend it!

William Ryan Blogtour 19 Sept