Chatting about #TheSiege by @policecommander @orionbooks #BlogTour #CompulsiveReaders #newbook #readingcommunity #bookbloggers

Once again, many thanks for the tour invite @Tr4cyF3nt0n to join these amazing bloggers on #TheSiege tour. For more bookish chat, please keep scrolling…

Nine hostages. Ten hours. One chance to save them all.

The Blurb

Nine hostages. Ten hours. One chance to save them all.

Lee James Connor has found his purpose in life: to follow the teachings of far-right extremist leader, Nicholas Farmer. So when his idol is jailed, he comes up with the perfect plan: take a local immigrant support group hostage until Farmer is released.

Grace Wheatley is no stranger to loneliness having weathered the passing of her husband, whilst being left to raise her son alone. The local support group is her only source of comfort. Until the day Lee James Connor walks in and threatens the existence of everything she’s ever known. 

Superintendent Alex Lewis may be one of the most experienced hostage negotiators on the force, but there’s no such thing as a perfect record. Still haunted by his last case, can he connect with Connor – and save his nine hostages – before it’s too late?

My thoughts

‘The Siege’ by John Sutherland doesn’t take long to snare you. It’s a tense, driven novel of a volatile hostage situation with depth. By depth, I mean this is a story driven by its characters.

Three central players drive this stomach clenching drama as Lee, a young man gripped by grief, pulled into an online existence and detached from reality is radicalised. He sets himself on an extreme pathway, fuelled by discord into creating and controlling a hostage situation. It’s in this tense setting that he meets Grace and Alex.

Grace is a young widow, burdened by grief and loneliness; she is our warrior within and the events of the novel create a phoenix in her, to rise up against her situation and reach deep inside for that human connection in a situation of fear and threat.

Alex is burdened by a past failed hostage negotiation and has his own demons to battle whilst maneuvering the opportunity to connect and save those now under threat.

Sutherland writes an absorbing and adrenaline inducing read perfect for fans of tense thrillers. It’s dark at times, but it’s also emotional, thoughtful and moves along at a dynamic pace. I’d happily recommend ‘The Siege’.

The Author

John Sutherland

John Sutherland is a father of three who lives with his wife and children in south London. For more than twenty-five years he served as an officer in the Metropolitan Police, rising to the rank of Chief Superintendent before his retirement on medical grounds in 2018.

John is a sought-after public speaker and commentator on a broad range of issues, who regularly appears on TV and radio and writes for major newspapers.

His first book, BLUE, written and published while he was still serving in the Met, was a Sunday Times bestseller.

It tells the remarkable stories of his policing life and describes his long road to recovery following the serious nervous breakdown that ended his operational policing career.

As always, please buy from Independents if you can XX

#BlogTour for #SeeNoEvil by @DavyFennell – the highly anticipated follow up to THE ART OF DEATH. With thanks to @ZaffreBooks for the gifted copy and @Tr4cyF3nt0n for the tour invite. #newbook #readers #bookrec

For this killer, it’s death at first sight…

The Blurb

Two men are found dead in London’s Battersea Park. One of the bodies has been laid out like a crucifix – with his eyes removed and placed on his open palms.

Detective Inspector Grace Archer and her caustic DS, Harry Quinn, lead the investigation. But when more bodies turn up in a similar fashion, they find themselves in a race against time to find the sadistic killer.

The hunt leads them to Ladywell Playtower in Southeast London, the home to a religious commune lead by the enigmatic Aaron Cronin. Archer and Quinn suspect Cronin’s involvement but his alibis are watertight, and the truth seemingly buried. If Archer is to find the killer, she must first battle her way through religious fanatics, London gangsters – and her own demons . . .

My thoughts…

‘See No Evil’ is the second book by David Fennell featuring DI Grace Archer and DS Harry Quinn, the first being: ‘The Art of Death’. This can, absolutely, be read as a standalone, however it’s always an idea to start at the beginning of any series for character development plotting. But, it’s really not an issue as Fennell builds important relationship detail into the narrative and as the new plot develops we are drawn into the character portrayal from ‘The Art of Death’ as our principal characters deal with a new threat and perpetrator to hunt down.

I really enjoyed ‘See No Evil’ perhaps more than I did ‘The Art of Death’. In the first book I worked out too early where it was heading, but this time I was hooked into connecting all the pieces together until the end. From the start, Fennell’s character driven narrative hook immersed in fear and creepiness grabs the readers’ attention and introduces a brutal crime that builds as the story progresses. Again, this is not a book for the faint-hearted and there are dark, twisty moments that delve into fanatical mindsets and coercive behaviours.

If you’re a crime and thriller reader, I’d highly recommend both ‘The Art of Death’ and ‘See No Evil’ – a fast-paced, exhilarating crime thriller that explores darker themes and is satisfyingly good.

Please click on the below link to read about the first book in the series ‘The Art of Death’.

The Author

David Fennell

Born and raised in Belfast before leaving for London at the age of eighteen with £50 in one pocket and a dog-eared copy of Stephen King’s The Stand in the other. He jobbed as a chef, waiter and bartender for several years before starting a career in writing for the software industry. He has been working in CyberSecurity for fourteen years and is a fierce advocate for information privacy. David has played rugby for Brighton and has studied Creative Writing at the University of Sussex. He is married and he and his partner split their time between Central London and Brighton. To find out more, visit his website: www.davidfennell.co.uk. Follow him on Twitter: @davyfennell

‘See No Evil’ published 28th April 2022, Zaffre, Hardback, eBook and Audio, £14.99

Please buy from Independents if you can XX

#BookChat #MiniReviews ‘Deepwater King’ by Claire McKenna (Book 2 of the Deepwater Trilogy) and ‘Mimic’ by Daniel Cole @orionbooks @HarperVoyagerUK

The Blurb

Since losing her great love to the Queen of the Sainted Isles, Arden must fulfil an impossible promise before she can return home – she must complete the dangerous Rite that will return Jonah’s spirit to the abyssal Court of the Deepwater King.

This sets her off on a journey far out at sea to find believers of the old religion on the oil-slick and mysterious islands beyond the horizon. But such a responsibility will not come without sacrifice, for the Deepwater folk who worship the King require the most desperate payments the soul, and with one man Arden may have to pay the greatest price of all…

Astonishingly original, with world-building to rival the depths of the ocean, McKenna has drawn a rich tale of longing and courage – penning the perfect oceanic steampunk fantasy.

My thoughts

You’ll need to read the first book in the series, ‘Monstrous Heart’ before reading ‘Deepwater King’ as it begins shortly after the first book ends. I enjoyed ‘Monstrous Heart’ and the developing relationship between Arden and Jonah up to the dramatic and disturbing climax of the opening story in this, I believe, trilogy. This was a huge part of the enjoyment of the first book and sadly, for me, it was missing from ‘Deepwater King’, however saying that, there was plenty of dark drama and action to hook you into the narrative.

There’s great worldbuilding, like book one, and the setting is a huge part of the books enjoyment – I really enjoy Steampunk vibes and loved this element. There are some great characters, both principal and minor – I did feel Arden lost the drive in this book at times (middle book syndrome?) – I hope the Arden/Jonah relationship drama will build up again to the level of ‘Monstrous Heart’ in the final book of the series. The story does builds to a dramatic crescendo and well, that ending – I need the next book!

I do enjoy this series and look forward to its conclusion.

The Blurb

DS Benjamin Chambers and DC Adam Winter are hunting a twisted serial killer who recreates famous works of art using the bodies of his victims. But after Chambers almost loses his life, the case goes cold – the killer lying dormant, his collection unfinished.

Jordan Marshall has excelled within the Met Police, driven by a loss that defined her teenage years. She obtains new evidence, convincing both Chambers and Winter to revisit the case. However, this new investigation reawakens their killer, the team in desperate pursuit of a monster hell-bent on finishing what he started at any cost.

My thoughts

I loved the RAGDOLL series, each book was contrasting in style and I really engaged with this variation and creativity. Daniel Coles books are always fun to read, despite taking you into dark places, minds and events. The thrillers are carefully plotted with both dramatic and creative deaths and crimes – so be warned, this isn’t for the faint of heart. There’s a great and slightly unusual character driven team working on the central investigation: DS Ben Chambers, PC Adam Winters and the modern newbie DC Jordan Marshall.

The crime investigation initially begins in 1989 shifting to the reopening in 2006 and I enjoyed the changes of both the investigation, the development and changes of the 1989 investigators. A part of Cole’s books that add to their charm, even though it’s rather macabre at times, is the humour, which I’ve also really enjoyed in previous Cole books – so please expect a chuckle along the way, if dark humour works for you?

With the theme of art, specifically Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’ sculpture opening this crime mystery, Cole has created an intelligent cold case crime at the heart of this thriller. The reader follows the team as they hunt the perpetrator of the sick crimes that haunt them, to find closure on the case and to seek justice. A gruesome crime thriller based on recreating famous works of art in the most macabre way.

An intelligent, absorbing and addictive read.

SCORPICA by G.R. Macallister, THE LAST LEGACY by Adrienne Young and introducing THE SHADOW GLASS by Josh Winning. Published by @TitanBooks

Some great fantasy reads to check out from Titan Books – keep scrolling to find out more…

The Blurb

In an ancient matriarchal world of magic, gods and warriors, the last girl – unbeknownst to the five queendoms – has just been born. As time marches on, the scribes of Bastian find no answers in their history books. The farmers of Sestia sacrifice their crops to the gods. Paxim, the empire of trade and dealings, has nothing to barter but boys and more boys. Arcan magic has no spells to remedy the Drought of Girls. And finally, Scorpica, where every woman is a fighter, their commander, their queen, has no more warriors to train. The lines of these once-great empires soon to die.

After centuries of peace, the ensuing struggle for dominance – and heirs – will bring the five queendoms to the eve of all-out war.

But the mysterious curse is linked to one of the last-born children, an orphaned all-magic girl, who is unaware she has a claim to the Arcan throne…

My thoughts…

‘Scorpica’ is the opening novel in ‘The Five Queendoms’ series by G.K. Macallister, and as you’d expect from a series starter there’s a lot of world building and set up. It’s a complex fantasy world, where the matriarch’s rule; I’ve seen it referred to as the female ‘Game of Thrones’.

The world is ruled by Queendoms, each having their own perspective on males and their roles. The female roles are vast and although the narrative pace is detailed and leisurely it held my attention. For those, seeking a more adventurous and pacey fantasy read, this may not be for you. Although, saying that, it is the opening and requires a lot of establishment – hold on in there!

‘Scorpica’ is heavy in POVs so it does take focus to track characters and relationships in each Queendom. With themes of violence, gender, politics, magic and female relationships this is a detailed and thought provoking read.

A fantasy novel of conflict, power and a world in crisis.

The Blurb

When a letter from her uncle Henrick arrives on Bryn Roth’s eighteenth birthday, summoning her back to Bastian, Bryn is eager to prove herself and finally take her place in her long-lost family.

Henrik has plans for Bryn, but she must win everyone’s trust if she wants to hold any power in the delicate architecture of the family. It doesn’t take long for her to see that the Roths are entangled in shadows. Despite their growing influence in upscale Bastian, their hands are still in the kind of dirty business that got Bryn’s parents killed years ago. With a forbidden romance to contend with and dangerous work ahead, the cost of being accepted into the Roths may be more than Bryn can pay.

My thoughts…

Set in the world of FABLE, (Young’s duology ‘Fable’ and ‘Namesake’) a new, smart and sassy protagonist is rejoined with her lost and detached family, setting the tone of the adventure. But there’s trouble ahead, with scheming, untruths, cons and pawns.

An fantasy adventure with a lead pitched against a ruthless adversary with a dash of romance to complete the journey. A quick, easy read for some wonderful escapism.

The Blurb

Jack Corman is failing at life.

Jobless, jaded and on the “wrong” side of thirty, he’s facing the threat of eviction from his London flat while reeling from the sudden death of his father, one-time film director Bob Corman. Back in the eighties, Bob poured his heart and soul into the creation of his 1986 puppet fantasy The Shadow Glass, a film Jack loved as a child, idolising its fox-like hero Dune.

But The Shadow Glass flopped on release, deemed too scary for kids and too weird for adults, and Bob became a laughing stock, losing himself to booze and self-pity. Now, the film represents everything Jack hated about his father, and he lives with the fear that he’ll end up a failure just like him.

In the wake of Bob’s death, Jack returns to his decaying home, a place creaking with movie memorabilia and painful memories. Then, during a freak thunderstorm, the puppets in the attic start talking. Tipped into a desperate real-world quest to save London from the more nefarious of his father’s creations, Jack teams up with excitable fanboy Toby and spiky studio executive Amelia to navigate the labyrinth of his father’s legacy while conjuring the hero within––and igniting a Shadow Glass resurgence that could, finally, do his father proud.

A new arrival to the TITAN bookshelf and something very different to build my eclectic reading style – I look forward to checking this one out and some more book chat 🙂

#BlogTour for ‘The Physician’s Daughter’ by @marthamconway @ZaffreBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n

I’m delighted to be a part of the Blog Tour for ‘The Physician’s Daughter’ by Martha Conway. What an eye-catching cover design, evoking the time period of the novel and the central relationship inside. My thanks to Zaffre for the gifted review copy and to Tracy for the tour invite. Do keep scrolling for some bookish chat.

In a world made for men, can one woman break free from tradition and walk a new path?

The Blurb

It is 1865, the American Civil War has just ended, and 18-year old Vita Tenney is determined to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a country doctor like her father. But when her father tells her she must get married instead, Vita explores every means of escape – and finds one in the person of war veteran Jacob Culhane. Damaged by what he’s seen in battle and with all his family gone, Jacob is seeking investors for a fledgling business. Then he meets Vita – and together they hatch a plan that should satisfy both their desires. Months later, Vita seemingly has everything she ever wanted. But alone in a big city and haunted by the mistakes of her past, she wonders if the life she always thought she wanted was too good to be true. When love starts to compete with ambition, what will come out on top?

From the author of The Floating Theatre, The Physician’s Daughter is the story of two people trying to make their way in a world that is struggling to escape its past.

My thoughts…

Each chapter of ‘The Physician’s Daughter’ is headed with a quotation which highlights the irony and ridiculousness of male thinking during the 19th Century, for example, the opening chapter begins with:

‘Hysteria is often excited in women by indigestion’ (On Diseases Peculiar to Women)

Dr Hugh Lenox, 1860

I looked forward to these chapter quotations and found them, quite frankly, gob smacking! From findings that ‘flat-chested females were unable to produce a well-developed infant’, to ‘the majority of women (happily for them) are not much troubled by sexual feeling of any kind’ Dr William Acton, 1888. Certainly, highlighting the view of the patriarchy and the medical profession of the period. Conway sets the scene nicely and introduces our protagonist Vita Tenney who is determined for the world to change as she seeks a position as a trainee doctor. The novel is set at the end of the American Civil War and the aftereffect of war is a consistent theme running through the story; this is also told through the perspective of Jacob Culhane, a previous soldier and prisoner of war. Vita’s father completely rejects the idea of his daughter becoming a doctor and following in his footsteps; the complex nature of grief is explored through her father and despite his harshness, there was a real sense of sadness at how loss affected him and by default the entire family. He states that Vita must marry instead, however Vita has other plans she’s determined to follow.

Vita and Jacob’s lives converge as they both attempt to control their futures despite hardships and adversary. I liked both characters, although at times Vita needed to open her eyes a little where Jacob was concerned; I did feel he forgave far too readily for her ‘betrayal’. I really felt for Jacob as he battled his ‘shakes’ from the war in a time where post-traumatic stress was not understood or treated well.

The story splits for a time and follows Vita and Jacob’s separate journeys until they find each other again; I thought the pace and engagement really picked up at this stage and I found it hard to put the book down.

With themes of grief, trauma, love, war, and the quest to follow your heart despite the odds, this book comes highly recommended from me. For readers seeking an engaging historical relationship drama with heart, then do pick up Conway’s ‘The Physician’s Daughter’.

THE BLOG TOUR

The Author

Martha Conway has been nominated for an Edgar Award and won the North American Book Award for Best Historical Fiction. She teaches creative writing for Stanford University’s Continuing Studies Program. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, she is one of seven sisters. She now lives in San Francisco with her family.

‘A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting’ by Sophie Irwin and ‘A Corruption of Blood’ by Ambrose Parry.

Book chat…

The Blurb

The season is about to begin – and there’s not a minute to lose…

Kitty Talbot needs a fortune.

Or rather, she needs a husband who has a fortune. This is 1818 after all, and only men have the privilege of seeking their own riches.

With just twelve weeks until Kitty and her sisters are made homeless, launching herself into London society is the only avenue open to her. And Kitty must use every ounce of cunning and ingenuity she possesses to climb the ranks.

The only one to see through her plans is the worldly Lord Radcliffe and he is determined to thwart her at any cost.

Can Kitty secure a fortune and save her sisters from poverty? There is not a day to lose and no one – not even a lord – will stand in her way…

My thoughts

I really enjoyed ‘A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting’ by Sophie Irwin and, as others have commented, it has a modern day Georgette Heyer vibe to it; it’s also an historical romance without the ‘heat’ that comes with many. What you get is an often charming, enemies to lovers story and great escapism into a fictionalised past, as our central protagonist, Kitty Talbot, finds herself forced to marry for wealth to save her family from potential destitution. There were a few times that this felt mercenary and quite annoying, but on the flip side it was an arrangement most of the wealthy opted into at the time; Kitty was simply taking advantage of these types of transactions on the marriage mart.

It’s a tale of misunderstanding, family, personal desires in the face of social restrictions and, well, love and fun. It wrapped up quite suddenly for me, and I personally would have liked a little more, perhaps an epilogue, but that’s just me.

Recommended to historical romance readers and people looking for some escapism from today’s world.

The Blurb

A Raven and Fisher Mystery: Book 3

Edinburgh, 1850. This city will bleed you dry.

Dr Will Raven is a man seldom shocked by human remains, but even he is disturbed by the contents of a package washed up at the Port of Leith. Stranger still, a man Raven has long detested is pleading for his help to escape the hangman.

Back in the townhouse of Dr James Simpson, Sarah Fisher has set her sights on learning to practise medicine. Almost everyone seems intent on dissuading her from this ambition, but when word reaches her that a woman has recently obtained a medical degree despite her gender, Sarah decides to seek her out.

Raven’s efforts to prove his former adversary’s innocence are failing and he desperately needs Sarah’s help. Putting their feelings for one another aside, their investigations take them to both extremes of Edinburgh’s social divide, where they discover that wealth and status cannot alter a fate written in the blood.

My thoughts

I love this book series and would highly recommend it to people who enjoy historical thrillers that mix real-life characters with the fictional world. Atmospheric, dark, meticulously plotted and executed with panache! I really do enjoy these books and the third in the series is no exception. ‘A Corruption of Blood’ can be read as a standalone I’m sure, but to understand the principal characters and their relationships, I’d highly recommend you start at the beginning.

A brilliant setting is the key to these books, the city of Edinburgh really comes as life: it’s like time-travelling. I love the well researched medical information, it really elevates the book and doesn’t bog it down at all. I also love the relationship between Will and Sarah and it certainly doesn’t conform to the readers’ expectations.

Highly recommended – these are also stunning looking books!

ONE FOR SORROW by Helen Fields, THE SWIFT & THE HARRIER by Minette Walters and THE DARJEELING INHERITANCE by Liz Harris.

Chatting about three very different books today.

The Blurb

One for sorrow, two for joy
Edinburgh is gripped by the greatest terror it has ever known: a lone bomber is targeting victims across the city, and no one is safe.
 
Three for a girl, four for a boy
In their jobs, DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach deal with death every day. But when it becomes clear that every bomb is a trap designed to kill them too, the possibility of facing it themselves starts to feel all too real.
 
Five for silver, six for gold
With the body count rising daily and the bomber’s methods becoming ever more horrifying, Ava and Luc must race to find out who is behind the attacks – or pay the ultimate price…
 
Seven for a secret never to be told…

My thoughts

Another excellent addition to the DI Luc Callanach and DCI Ava Turner series by Helen Fields. I’ve enjoyed this series since I read the first book ‘Perfect Remains’ back in 2017 and it was great to be back with the Major Investigation Team; this time the case becomes very personal. As with all series, it’s ideal to start at the beginning to follow the character and relationships progression. Saying that, the case and its escalation work independently and provides a high paced, thrilling read. Turner is the character focus for this book in the series; she’s an intense, committed officer who’s going through grief and crisis during the book whilst tackling a traumatic and violent serial bomber. Interspersed with the main narrative are back story events and we slowly begin to piece together the developments into one plotline. Along the way, Fields pushes red herrings and twists skillfully to keep the intrigue and tension building. There’s also some very emotional moments and those who are following the series will be moved and upset by these… and, wow what a shock ending! Highly recommended.

The Blurb

Dorset, 1642.

When bloody civil war breaks out between the King and Parliament, families and communities across England are riven by different allegiances.

A rare few choose neutrality.

One such is Jayne Swift, a Dorset physician from a Royalist family, who offers her services to both sides in the conflict. Through her dedication to treating the sick and wounded, regardless of belief, Jayne becomes a witness to the brutality of war and the devastation it wreaks.

Yet her recurring companion at every event is a man she should despise because he embraces civil war as the means to an end. She knows him as William Harrier, but is ignorant about every other aspect of his life. His past is a mystery and his future uncertain.

My thoughts

This is a thoroughly enjoyable read; it’s a journey through a turbulent time in English history and I really enjoyed the well-researched historical backdrop. There are also some great characters to feast upon, specifically Jane Swift, calm, resilient and a woman ahead of her time. There’s also William Harrier, complex and mysterious, whose developing relationship with Swift is a joy to follow – there are many ups and downs along the road. The setting of Civil War is dangerous and consistently challenging for both our leads and many others as deceit and hated spill into communities. I also particularly enjoyed the (well researched) medical side to the story and Swift’s calm and dedicated control of her skills and determination to deliver in extremely trying situations.

Highly recommended historical read with themes of love, loss and sacrifice.

The Blurb

Darjeeling, 1930

After eleven years in school in England, Charlotte Lawrence returns to Sundar, the tea plantation owned by her family, and finds an empty house. She learns that her beloved father died a couple of days earlier and that he left her his estate. She learns also that it was his wish that she marry Andrew McAllister, the good-looking younger son from a neighbouring plantation.

Unwilling to commit to a wedding for which she doesn’t feel ready, Charlotte pleads with Dan Fitzgerald, the assistant manager of Sundar, to teach her how to run the plantation while she gets to know Andrew. Although reluctant as he knew that a woman would never be accepted as manager by the local merchants and workers, Dan agrees.

Charlotte’s chaperone on the journey from England, Ada Eastman, who during the long voyage, has become a friend, has journeyed to Darjeeling to marry Harry Banning, the owner of a neighbouring tea garden.

When Ada marries Harry, she’s determined to be a loyal and faithful wife. And to be a good friend to Charlotte. And nothing, but nothing, was going to stand in the way of that.

My thoughts

I love the atmosphere and setting of the ‘Darjeeling Inheritance’ – the writer encapsulates the sights and smells of the country brilliantly; I felt a huge sense of transportation and escapism when I settled down to read. I love drinking tea, so this part of the novel also interested me.

There’s a mix of characters, some likeable and others not so! With themes of arrogance, romance, the female, patriarchy and guilt this is a great book for a summer read.

I enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it to others.

Delighted to be on the #BlogTour for #babyitscoldoutside by Emily Bell and published by @michaeljbooks

‘The perfect festive treat’

THE BLURB

FATE PULLED THEM APART BUT NOT BEFORE THEY MADE A PROMISE.

TEN CHRISTMASES LATER, WILL THEIR WISH COME TRUE? . . .

As Norah battles through the bustling December crowds, she hears the notes of a song that transports her back to the most romantic week of her life.

After meeting on a blissful holiday, but knowing they had to part, a boy named Andrew made her a promise:

If they are both single on Christmas Eve in ten years’ time, they will meet under the clock on Grafton Street, Dublin.

Norah has no idea if he will remember, but she has nothing to lose.

So, hoping for a Christmas miracle, she heads to Dublin. To that clock. And, maybe, to Andrew.

But it wouldn’t be Christmas without a few surprises . . .

Baby It's Cold Outside Kindle lifestyle image
Two hearts. Ten years. Once last chance for love…

MY THOUGHTS

Ah, what a charming Winter read for all those romantics out there. ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ is a heartwarming little book that comforts and entertains delightfully; a perfect light-hearted seasonal read. It’s a story of timings, Fate, friendships, family relationships and music.

The book jumps about from place to place as our characters live and grow, from Italy to Dublin, America and London. I enjoyed following the character of Noah, who stood out for me. I loved how the story was transported to the reader via music and the memories unraveled the past relationship for the reader.

It’s a book that utilises the romance and seasonal pleasures of Christmas time and I really have a yearning to visit Dublin now and experience the hustle, bustle and sounds of the streets, music and communities.

I would recommend this book for readers looking for a romantic, light Christmas read.

Baby It's Cold Outside: The heartwarming and uplifting love story you need this Christmas by [Emily Bell]

I’m delighted to be joining the #BlogTour for #TheShadowing by @sarahrward1 @TrapezeBooks #compulsivereaders

THE BLURB

When well-to-do Hester learns of her sister Mercy’s death at a Nottinghamshire workhouse, she travels to Southwell to find out how her sister ended up at such a place.

Haunted by her sister’s ghost, Hester sets out to uncover the truth, when the official story reported by the workhouse master proves to be untrue. Mercy was pregnant – both her and the baby are said to be dead of cholera, but the workhouse hasn’t had an outbreak for years.

Hester discovers a strange trend in the workhouse of children going missing. One woman tells her about the Pale Lady, a ghostly figure that steals babies in the night. Is this lady a myth or is something more sinister afoot at the Southwell poorhouse?

As Hester investigates, she uncovers a conspiracy, one that someone is determined to keep a secret, no matter the cost…

MY THOUGHTS

I really enjoy books like ‘The Shadowing’, firstly because of the historical setting (we have a sinister workhouse to unpick); secondly, the gothic atmosphere, and thirdly the author is clearly a great storyteller.

Our protagonist is Hester, who is introduced to the reader whilst suffering in the throes of a nightmare wrapped around by mensural pain; we soon learn she is living under the patriarchy of her father. What’s also soon clear, is that Hester has visions of the departed, of shadows and spirits: the dead. Her long-long sister Mercy appears and Hester knows that bad news is approaching. The story develops quickly and the family receive a letter that Mercy has indeed died at a place called the Southwell Union Workhouse, and she has died a pauper.

This book’s central mystery involves what actually happened to Mercy, how she ended up in a workhouse and dying a pauper. Hester becomes obsessed with finding out the truth and this is the hook of the narrative. I really enjoyed the historical setting coming alive, as Hester battles relentlessly to find out the truth and put her sister’s shadow to rest.

There’s a great, creepy atmosphere at Southwell, and I was reminded of Daphine Du Maurier’s world of shady characters, foreboding inns, untrustworthy characters, and ghostly, gothic undertones. It’s a world where, Hester, our strong – albeit a little naïve lead character fights to stand up for her sister and those trying to stop her. I also enjoyed the addition of Matthew, a grouchy, dismissive landlord of a coaching inn, who develops and become a more central part of the narrative; he also provides the dash of romance, and I do mean dash.

I thoroughly enjoyed ‘The Shadowing’ and would highly recommend it.

THE BLOG TOUR

Super delighted to be chatting about #Mimic #BlogTour @orionbooks

It’s great to be a part of the blog tour for book MIMIC by Daniel Cole with thanks to Ellen at Orion Books for the invite. Cole’s latest is a standalone thriller read, unlike his previous (highly recommended) trilogy – the Ragdoll Books.

The Blurb

1989
DS Benjamin Chambers and DC Adam Winter are on the trail of a twisted serial killer with a passion for recreating the world’s greatest works of art through the bodies of his victims. But after Chambers almost loses his life, the case goes cold – their killer lying dormant, his collection unfinished.

1996
Jordan Marshall has excelled within the Metropolitan Police Service, fuelled by a loss that defined her teenage years. Obsessed, she manages to obtain new evidence, convincing both Chambers and Winter to revisit the case. However, their resurrected investigation brings about a fresh reign of terror, the team treading a fine line between police officers and vigilantes in their pursuit of a monster far more dangerous and intelligent than any of them had anticipated…

My Thoughts

I loved the RAGDOLL series, each book was contrasting in style and I really engaged with this variation and creativity. Daniel Coles books are always fun to read, despite taking you into dark places, minds and events. The thrillers are carefully plotted with both dramatic and creative deaths and crimes – so be warned, this isn’t for the faint of heart.

There’s a great and slightly unusual character driven team working on the central investigation: DS Ben Chambers, PC Adam Winters and the modern newbie DC Jordan Marshall. The crime investigation initially begins in 1989 shifting to the reopening in 2006 and I enjoyed the changes of both the investigation, the development and changes of the 1989 investigators.

A part of Cole’s books that add to their charm, even though it’s rather macabre at times, is the humour, which I’ve also really enjoyed in previous Cole books – so please expect a chuckle along the way, if dark humour works for you?

With the theme of art, specifically Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’ sculpture opening this crime mystery, Cole has created an intelligent cold case crime at the heart of this thriller. The reader follows the team as they hunt the perpetrator of the sick crimes that haunt them, to find closure on the case and to seek justice.

A gruesome crime thriller based on recreating famous works of art in the most macabre way.

An intelligent, absorbing and addictive read.

The Author – Daniel Cole

Born in 1983, Daniel Cole has worked as a paramedic, an RSPCA officer and most recently for the RNLI, driven by an intrinsic need to save people or perhaps just a guilty conscience about the number of characters he kills off in his writing. He currently lives in sunny Bournemouth and can usually be found down the beach when he ought to be writing. Daniel’s debut novel Ragdoll was a Sunday Times bestseller and has been published in over thirty-five countries.

Please buy from independents if you can XX