#BlogTour: BURIED by Lynda La Plante @LaPlanteLynda @ZaffreBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0

BuriedPublication: 2nd April 2020 – Zaffre

DC Jack Warr and his girlfriend Maggie have just moved to London to start a new life together. Though charming, Jack can’t seem to find his place in the world – until he’s drawn into an investigation that turns his life upside down.

In the aftermath of a fire at an isolated cottage, a badly charred body is discovered, along with the burnt remains of millions of stolen, untraceable bank notes.

Jack’s search leads him deep into a murky criminal underworld – a world he finds himself surprisingly good at navigating. But as the line of the law becomes blurred, how far will Jack go to find the answers – and what will it cost him?

In BURIED, it’s time to meet DC Jack Warr as he digs up the deadly secrets of the past . . .

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Lynda La Plante is back and I am delighted to take part in the blog tour for her brand new fantastic novel, Buried.

A fire leads to the discovery of a body and the money from an old heist. Enter DC Jack Warr, the protagonist of this new series by Lynda La Plante. Jack Warr has recently joined the Met, after moving from Devon to London with his girlfriend Maggie. While Jack tries to figure out the truth about the case, he has his own personal problems: his adoptive father is dying and his search for his real father quickly becomes an obsession.

I really liked the characters of Jack Warr and his girlfriend Maggie, they are smart, engaging, and well-crafted characters. Jack has his doubts about his career in the police and his search for the truth about his birth and his past lead him to a journey of self-discovery, while she is very understanding and supporting.

The story is intriguing, twisty, and very well-plotted. There are cold cases, gangsters, and so much mystery and, if you’ve read the author’s previous novels, you will recognize some of the characters mentioned. The more I read, the more the pace increases, the more twists keep coming, the more I couldn’t put it down so that I read it in less than two days. I think that the ending was perfect and surprising and it makes me eager to see what happens next to DC Jack Warr.

A huge thank you to Tracy Fenton and Zaffre for inviting me to join the blog tour and providing me with a copy of the novel.

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Lynda La Plante Buried-29.01.20

#BlogTour: THE FALLOUT by Rebecca Thornton @RThorntonwriter @HarperFiction @annecater #RandomThingsTours @jenrharlow #thefallout

The Fallout CoverPublication: 5th December 2019 (eBook); 2nd April 2020 (paperback) – HarperFiction

At the school gates, there’s no such thing as yesterday’s news . . .

When Liza’s little boy has an accident at the local health club, it’s all anyone can talk about.

Was nobody watching him?

Where was his mother?

Who’s to blame?

The rumours, the finger-pointing, the whispers – they’re everywhere. And Liza’s best friend, Sarah, desperately needs it to stop.

Because Sarah was there when it happened. It was all her fault. And if she’s caught out on the lie, everything will fall apart.

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Today I am very happy to take part in the blog tour for the brilliant new novel by Rebecca Thornton, The Fallout, out now in paperback.

In The Fallout, Rebecca Thornton explores the complex dynamics of a group of mothers in West London. Gossip, jealousies, secrets, and lies lead to a series of misunderstandings and discord with serious consequences.

Sarah e Liza have been best friends since they were pregnant with their first child. Their friendship is tested after Liza’s son gets hurt under Sarah’s watch and an old friend comes back into their life. Sarah’s guilt over the accident and the secrets she is keeping from her best friend put a strain on their friendship and, as rumours spread and lies come to light, things spiral out of control.

Rebecca Thorton created a close-community world where everyone is judged by their looks and their choices, where gossip can destroy a friendship, where loyalties easily change. The story is entertaining, gripping, and very well-written and it alternates between Sarah, Liza, and WhatsApp groups where every parent has their own opinion and are quick to judge.

The characters feel authentic and relatable, I found them flawed, sometimes annoying, sometimes likable, the sort of people you can meet on the street or at the park. Through the characters, the author perfectly shows the difficulties of motherhood and she addresses themes of mental health and loss.

Rebecca Thornton is a brilliant author and her stories are engrossing and enjoyable (if you haven’t read her previous novels, please do!). Highly recommended!!!

A huge thank you to Anne Cater and HarperCollins UK for inviting me to join the blog tour and providing me with a copy of the novel.

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Follow the rest of the blog tour:

The Fallout BT Poster

RebeccaThornton

 

Rebecca Thornton is an alumna of the Faber Academy Writing A Novel course, where she was tutored by Esther Freud and Tim Lott. Her writing has been published in The Guardian, You Magazine, Daily Mail, Prospect Magazine and The Sunday People amongst others. She has reported from the Middle East, Kosovo and the UK. She now lives in West London with her husband and two children. The Fallout is her third novel.

 

#BookReview: MAGPIE LANE by Lucy Atkins @lucyatkins @QuercusBooks @ellakroftpatel #MagpieLane

51788592._SX0_SY0_Publication: 2nd April 2020 – Quercus

When the eight-year-old daughter of an Oxford College Master vanishes in the middle of the night, police turn to the Scottish nanny, Dee, for answers.

As Dee looks back over her time in the Master’s Lodging – an eerie and ancient house – a picture of a high achieving but dysfunctional family emerges: Nick, the fiercely intelligent and powerful father; his beautiful Danish wife Mariah, pregnant with their child; and the lost little girl, Felicity, almost mute, seeing ghosts, grieving her dead mother.

But is Dee telling the whole story? Is her growing friendship with the eccentric house historian, Linklater, any cause for concern? And most of all, why is Felicity silent?

Roaming Oxford’s secret passages and hidden graveyards, Magpie Lane explores the true meaning of family – and what it is to be denied one.

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I have been having a bit of a hard time concentrating on reading lately (and I’ve seen I am not the only one), but Magpie Lane kept me completely captivated. Such an excellent read! Multi-layered characters, a creepy atmosphere, a house seemingly haunted by ghosts, and a gripping plot. I couldn’t put it down!

It all started when Dee met new College Master Nick Law and got offered a job as a nanny for his daughter Felicity. Eight months later, Felicity is missing and Dee and Nick and his wife are turning on each other. What happened? As Dee is interviewed by the police we discover a disturbing story of loss, dysfunctional family, and secrets.

The story is very well-written and you can feel the tension as you turn page after page. The author’s choice of the setting is fantastic. Master House is claustrophobic and with an interesting and dark history, almost a character itself, that gave me goose-bumps all over my body. The author’s beautiful descriptions and the fascinating and intriguing historical facts narrated through the character of Linklater really bring Oxford to life and kept me glued to the pages.

The author put together a cast of brilliant and complex characters: there is Dee, the Scottish nanny with an obsession for mathematics and a mysterious past; Nick, an ambitious professor who cares more about his job than his own daughter; his Danish pregnant wife Mariah, who restores wallpaper; his daughter Felicity, a eight-year-old girl with selective mutism; and House Detective Linklater with a deep knowledge of Oxford.

Magpie Lane is intense, dramatic, and addictive. I couldn’t wait to see how it ended and, yet, I didn’t want it to end. I adored it and I couldn’t recommend it enough!!!

A huge thank you to Ella and Quercus for providing me with a proof of this brilliant novel!

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#BookReview: LITTLE DISASTERS by Sarah Vaughan @SVaughanAuthor @simonschusterUK @jessbarratt88

816t19mn05LPublication: 2nd April 2020 – Simon & Schuster UK

A mother in crisis
A doctor’s duty
What is the truth about that night?

Liz and Jess have been friends for ten years, ever since they both started a family. But how well do they really know each other?

When Jess arrives at A&E with her baby girl and a story that doesn’t add up, Liz is the doctor on call.

Jess has devoted her life to family and home. But she is hiding so many secrets.

As the truth begins to emerge, Liz is forced to question everything she thought she knew: about Jess, and about herself…

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The new novel by Sarah Vaughan is not an easy and light read. It’s a thought-provoking, compelling, and gripping story that addresses serious and relatable themes. At the center of the novel there are parents and it shows how difficult and life-changing parenthood is. Jess, a mother of three who is struggling after the birth of her third child; her husband Ed who is trying to figure out what is going on with his wife; and her best friend, Liz, a paediatrician who starts to question not only her friend’s life, but also her own and her past.

When Jess arrives at the hospital with her injured baby girl and a story doesn’t make sense, Liz struggles with her need to protect her friend and her duty to report her to authorities. In the meantime, Ed knows he should have been more present at home, but his work takes all his time. Should he have noticed his wife’s strange behaviour? And did Jess harm their baby? And did Liz make the right choice?

The characters are very well-drawn, relatable, and genuine and so well-drawn that you feel almost like you know them. They are every parent as they question their own parenting, as they wonder if they are doing the right thing when it comes to their children, as they realize how hard and consuming it is to take care of a child.

Once again, Sarah Vaughan wrote a fantastic novel that leaves you affected and questioning things. If you are looking for a thriller, then this is not the right read for you. It’s more a family drama with a lot of tension and a few twists that take you by surprise. The story progresses at a slow and perfect pace with different points of views and a few flashbacks that keep the reader completely engrossed. Some of the scenes are heart-breaking and moving, but there are also moments of joy and forgiveness that make this a beautiful and excellent read.

Little Disasters is a superb, realistic, and brilliantly written novel about parenthood, friendship, and mental health and it’s out next week. Highly recommended!!!

A huge thank you to Simon & Schuster UK and NetGalley for providing me with a proof copy of this fantastic novel.

 

 

 

 

#BookReview: THE SECOND WIFE by Rebecca Fleet @RebeccaLFleet @TransworldBooks

The Second WifePublication: 5th March 2020 – Transworld

Everyone brings baggage to a new relationship.

When Alex met Natalie she changed his life. After the tragic death of his first wife, which left him a single parent to teenage daughter Jade, he’s determined to build a happy family.

But his new-found happiness is shattered when the family home is gutted by fire and his loyalties are unexpectedly tested. Jade insists she saw a man in the house on the night of the fire; Natalie denies any knowledge of such an intruder.

Alex is faced with an impossible choice: to believe his wife or his daughter? And as Natalie’s story unravels, Alex realises that his wife has a past he had no idea about, a past that might yet catch up with her.

But this time, the past could be deadly…

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WOW!!!  What a wonderful and gripping read. I loved Rebecca Fleet’s first novel, The House Swap, but I ADORED The Second Wife. I spent an afternoon with my nose stuck on my kindle and I didn’t get up from my couch until I reached the last page. I loved the claustrophobic atmosphere, the high tension, and beautifully-written plot. Also, I enjoyed the twists that just pop up when you less expect it, which is not an easy thing when you read many thriller.

Not only the plot is intriguing and completely captivating, but also the characters are brilliantly-drawn: there is Alex, trying to figure out the truth about the fire that almost destroyed his family; his second wife, Natalie, with a past that she doesn’t want to surface; and then Jade, Alex’s thirteen-year-old daughter from his first marriage, who claims that there was a man in the house the night of the fire.

The story is told from different perspectives and, as each character tell their story, you don’t know who to trust (I DO love unreliable characters!). Is the fire an accident or arson? Did Jade really see a man in the house the night of the fire? What is Natalie hiding? Why doesn’t Alex know much about Natalie’s past? So many questions that the author unravels in a slow-burning progression that keeps the reader engrossed.

The Second Wife is a suspenseful, engaging, and thrilling novel, perfect for all fans of psychological thrillers.

A huge thank you to Transworld and NetGalley for providing me with a proof copy of this fantastic novel.

 

Q&A: TANNADEE by Maurice Gray @matadorbooks

Good morning everyone! Starting my week with a fantastic Q&A with Maurice Gray whose new novel, TANNADEE, was published in February by Troubador Publishing.

First of all, what is TANNADEE?

Tannadee, a picturesque village in the Scottish Highlands, finds itself suddenly forced to fight for its life when Gordon Weever, a billionaire bully, reveals plans to build an exclusive golf resort nearby. Though most of the locals oppose him, Weever pushes on, employing dirty tricks and splashing cash. He trashes a rare woodland, he annexes land. Somebody needs to stop him. But who? 

Step up local teacher, Chizzie Bryson with his out-of-the-box idea for the villagers to compete in a Highland Games to raise funds – with a surprising ally. Weever’s own daughter rejects her father’s rapacious antics, time after time attempting to remodel him into someone she can respect… and failing.

The time of the Highland Games dawns, and a diverse range of local characters compete on behalf of Tannadee including a greasy wrestler, a hypochondriac miler, a suicidal hill runner, a pretty-boy hammer thrower, a hen-pecked cyclist, and a wild-boy sprinter. Can good morals and fairness win the day? And can they be the iceberg to sink Weever’s titanic ego once and for all?

Maurice Gray was so nice to answer a few of my questions…

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Can you tell us more about your new novel, Tannadee?

Tannadee is a humorous novel about a fictional village in the Scottish Highlands. The village is forced to fight for its life when Gordon Weever, a bullying billionaire, plans to build an exclusive golf resort nearby. Though most locals oppose him, Weever pushes on, employing dirty tricks and splashing cash. He trashes a rare woodland, he annexes land. Somebody needs to stop him. But who? Step up local teacher, Chizzie Bryson. He inspires villagers to compete in a Highland Games to raise funds. He is helped greatly by Weever’s own daughter who rejects her father’s rapacious antics. She even confronts him in the hope of persuading him to become someone she can respect. But Weever is his own man, and he has no compunction about exploiting weakness, particularly that of a local aristrocat who is bedevilled by booze and gambling.  Through a mixture of satire, farce and challenging issues I think the novel delivers a story that is original, timely and engaging.

How did you come up with the plotline for the book?

As an adviser to golf courses throughout Scotland I had seen quite a few small communities benefit from the construction or upgrading of golf courses. They sometimes became the hub of the community’s social life and made the place more attractive to young families. So when Donald Trump submitted plans for a new golf course in Aberdeenshire, I was very much in favour of the project – it promised jobs and a higher profile for the region. However, the plans required  the acquisition of a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and a lot of debate and mixed feelings arose from this. With this in mind, I thought it would be interesting to see what could happen when another billionaire proposes a major golf project near a small community in the Scottish Highlands.

Do you have a favourite character you can tell us a bit more about?

My favourite character is Yolanda, the billionaire’s daughter. She could quite simply take on her father’s mantle and run the global business while enjoying the best that life has to offer. But she chooses a different path, her own path. She’s a confident young woman without being overly assertive and she is aware that life has a spiritual aspect to it, something that her father only now, in his sixties, is coming to realise. She may not take up the most space in the book, but she arguably has the greatest impact. She takes on men in a men’s world. And most tellingly of all, she is able to act as a bridge between the single-minded dynamism of her father and the community spirit championed by the other lead character who is opposing her father.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

For most of my professional life I was a sportsturf agronomist advising venues ranging from the renowned to the very humble. Before that, I was a biology teacher in Zambia and Scotland. Now retired, I’m not active in sports, but once was a prize-winning sprinter on the amateur Highland Games circuit.

What is a great book you’ve read recently that you would recommend to others?

I would recommend My Life on the Plains by General George Custer. This book, published two years before the Battle of Little Bighorn, provides a first-hand account of the ill-fated General Custer and his cavalry as they set about confronting native Americans on the vast plains of America. Well written, though in a slightly archaic style, the book draws the reader into the sights and feel of the plains as ordinary men edge their way ever forwards. But ordinary though these men were, they  were about to sweep away not just a nation, not just a people, but an entire civilization. These ordinary men changed the human face of America. Also changed in these reminiscences is Custer’s image, popularly known as a rash and arrogant man, the book reveals Custer as a more complex person capable also of dry humour, sensitivity and genuine empathy for the native Americans.

When did you decide to write and what prompted you to start?

While I was a student at the University of  Aberdeen, I wrote some articles for the student newspaper and did some script writing for student revues. This gave me an appetite for writing sitcom scripts, but when I took up full-time employment as a schoolteacher I didn’t have enough time to continue writing. It was only later when I became established as a sportsturf agronomist  that I decided it was now or never and I would use what little spare time I had to attempt some serious writing. I wrote two plays which were never performed but were held for a time by two theatres for possible production and one of them received a reading by professional actors, with a famous Scottish comedian, Chic Murray, in the leading role. As for the sitcoms, a BBC editor told me that my scripts would never reach production stage because I enjoyed my job too much. And he was right; I just never had enough time to do all the writing and re-writing required to produce scripts of professional standard. When I finally retired, I had the time I needed and I had a large heap of notes accumulated from years of jotting.

What comes to you first – the setting, the characters or some aspect of the story?

For Tannadee it was a combination of the setting and particular events, but future books will be based around a set of characters.

Has any other writer in particular influenced the way you write?

I wouldn’t say I was influenced by any particular writer, but I can think of many writers whose work I admire and whose styles I probably have been influenced by to some extent. They include the works of Henry Fielding, Dickens, Chekhov, Tolstoy, the essays of J.B. Priestley, Garrison Keiller, Philip Roth, Spike Milligan, and John Grisham, to name but a few.

Can you describe Tannadee in 3 adjectives?

Humorous, Highland, enlightening.

Can you tell us a bit about your plans for the future?

I have two books in mind at present. One is a sequel to Tannadee, and the other is based in Africa featuring Chizzie, one of the leading characters in Tannadee.

More about Maurice Gray…

Maurice Gray Photo

For most of his professional life Maurice Gray was a sportsturf agronomist advising venues ranging from the renowned to the very humble. Before that, he was a biology teacher in Zambia and Scotland, and was once a prize-winning sprinter on the amateur Highland Games circuit. Now retired, he is based in Perth. This is his debut.

#BookReview: A BODY IN THE BOOKSHOP by Helen Cox @Helenography @QuercusBooks @ellakroftpatel

Back in October, I came across the Kitt Hartley Yorkshire Mystery series which features librarian-turned-investigator Kitt and her best friend Evie investigating homicides in York. A Body in the Bookshop is the second fantastic novel in the series and it’s out today to in paperback so I am delighted to share again my review of this thrilling and suspenseful novel set among books.

A Body in the Bookshop

It’s nearly Christmas in York, but it seems the season of goodwill hasn’t touched everyone…

When DS Charlotte Banks is suspended from the police on suspicion of assaulting a suspect in the burglary of a local bookshop, librarian Kitt Harley and her friend Evie Bowes refuse to believe she is guilty. But why is she being framed?

With Charlotte’s boss DI Malcolm Halloran unable to help, Evie decides to take matters into her own hands. Kitt takes little persuading to get involved too – after all, as well as Charlotte’s career to save, there are missing books to be found!

From the tightknit community of York’s booksellers, to the most gossipy bus route in the country, Kitt and Evie leave no stone unturned to get at the truth behind the burglary.

Then the discovery of a body raises the stakes even higher. For Evie, and now Kitt, this case is as personal as it gets. Can they catch the murderer in time to turn a bleak midwinter into something merry and bright?

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A few weeks ago I was invited to join the media blast for the first novel in the Kitt Hartley Yorkshire Mystery series and I enjoyed reading about this librarian turned investigator. So, when I found out that the second book in the series, A Body in the Bookshop, was coming out on 31st October I knew I had to read it right away. Not only because I really love the title (it’s great, isn’t it?!?), but because I fell in love with the characters, the setting of the books, and I enjoy the author’s clear and flowing writing style.

So, in A Body in the Bookshop, we find the three funniest and smartest amateur detectives back for another case. It all starts with the robbery of some valuable first editions at Kitt’s favourite bookshop and the suspension of DS Charlotte Banks for assaulting a suspect. Feeling protective and grateful to DS Banks following the case in Murder by the Minster, Evie convinces Kitt, once again, to do their own investigation in the case. This case gives Kitt the excuse to visit all bookshops in town in search of clues, while Evie is determined to find out the truth and help DS Charley Banks. Helping them are the always loyal assistant librarian and online genius Grace and the 85-year-old psychic Ruby who reads tarots and gets her info on the bus 59.

While Murder by the Minster was more Kitt’s story, A Body in the Bookshop focuses more on Evie. She is still processing the events of the first book and its consequences. On the romantic side, she is struggling with her unexpected feelings for someone and we get to read more about her friendship with Kitt. I wish there had been more about Kitt and detective Halloran’s new romance (I love this couple!), but I enjoyed getting to know Evie better. Once again, Kitt is full of literary references that make me like her more and more (and increase my TBR pile) and I love the character of Grace. She is such a fun character, so smart, resourceful, and full of life and she always makes me laugh.

With good pacing and a few twists, the author addresses themes of police corruption, blackmail, secrets, and, of course, murder. Even though it is the second book in the series, it can easily be read as a stand-alone, but I highly recommend you read the first book, too, not only because it’s a fantastic read, but to better understand the characters and their story. A Body in the Bookshop is an engaging, thrilling, and addictive cosy mystery and I am already looking forward to the third book in the series which is out next March!

A huge thank you to Quercus and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of the novel.

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