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November 2020

Shadow Sands by Robert Bryndza

When former detective Kate Marshall discovers the body of a young man in the Shadow Sands reservoir, the cause of death of determined as a tragic accident. His mum is not so sure. A strong swimmer, fully aware of the risks, why would he choose to swim in such a dangerous place late at night, fully clothed? Managing to convince her that foul play is involved, Kate and her research assistant Tristan Harper take a closer look and are soon convinced that the boy has been murdered and that this is not the killer’s first victim. When another woman is taken, can Kate discover the truth before she too suffers the same fate?

A year after being introduced to Kate Marshall in Nine Elms, she is back with a bang. After being completely hooked by the first few chapters in the previous book, I couldn’t wait to read the sequel, putting it on my most anticipated books of 2020 list. I am so pleased to report that Shadow Sands is another outstanding read and deserves to be a huge hit for Robert Bryndza.

Although this could be read as a standalone, I would recommend that you read the previous book as some serious spoilers are revealed in this one. In Shadow Sands we see the development of the characters we have previously met and , in particular, we discover more about Tristan and what makes him tick. It was a clever move to use the missing woman to introduce us to his personal life and I enjoyed reading the difference in reactions between his sister and Kate when he makes his revelation. I love the relationship between the two main characters and how they trust each other implicitly, their skills complementing each other perfectly.

The plot is an engaging one and moves on at a good pace. What starts off as the discovery of a body deemed the result of an accidental death soon becomes a much bigger investigation when Kate realises that there is more to the local urban legends – what if there are more undiscovered bodies in the reservoir? The danger Kate and Tristan find themselves in is nothing compared to the horrors faced by the missing woman. Her experiences at the hands of her captor were horrific and I think I found the thought of them standing watching her whilst wearing night vision goggles the most disturbing part. The resilience shown by the woman, however, was nothing short of amazing and I willed her to get through her ordeal alive.

This is shaping up to be a fantastic series and I can’t wait to see where Robert Bryndza takes Kate and Tristan next.

With thanks to Little, Brown Book Group UK, Sphere and Net Galley.

**BLOG TOUR** How Love Actually Ruined Christmas (or Colourful Narcotics) by Gary Raymond

I’m not a huge fan of rom-coms but I’ve always had a soft spot for the film Love Actually. With its stellar cast and feel-good story lines, I went to see it at the cinema, own the DVD and if I see it’s on TV, I find myself settling down to watch it once again. The title of this book, therefore, intrigued me – just how could this film possibly be accused of ruining Christmas?

If you have never seen the film, then this book will not make much sense to you! It is, essentially, a retelling of the plot, taking each aspect and dissecting it with a very critical eye. While my opinion of Love Actually has not been swayed after reading this, I do concede that the author has made some very valid points and I will definitely see parts of the film in a different light.

Gary Raymond definitely hits the nail on the head with regards to Daniel and Karen. This is a man who has recently lost his wife and yet his friend is pushing him towards starting a new relationship, seemingly even before the funeral! Until reading this, I had never given this insensitive behaviour a second thought! Likewise, the author’s comments on the Mark/Juliet/Peter relationship are spot on, although I am still a sucker for Andrew Lincoln’s (Mark) scene with the flashcards. The mention of Boris Johnson in this section may have put me off slightly, though!

If you have ever seen Love Actually, whatever your opinion of it, then I can definitely recommend this book. Well-written, witty and with some astute observations, there will be new thoughts running through my mind the next time I watch it. With Christmas coming up, that’s bound to be soon…

With thanks to Parthian, Gary Raymond and Emma from Damppebbles blog tours for my copy.

**COVER REVEAL** The Mystery of Montague House by Emma Davies

I am happy to be taking part in today’s cover reveal for the new book by Emma Davies, The Mystery of Montague House. This looks like a great read!

When Summer meets Wynter…

With enough rooms to fill a Cluedo board several times over, Montague House has often been the subject of rumour and gossip. Tales of strange goings on, an owner who disappeared one day and was never seen again, not to mention the treasure that rumour has it lies at its heart… But now the present owner has died and the house is to be sold. It looks as if the opportunity has come to finally settle the stories once and for all.

Clodagh Wynter doesn’t believe in ghostly goings on and tall tales of secrets. She has her feet very firmly on the ground and, tasked with the job of valuing and cataloguing the house and all its contents, she’s simply looking forward to working in such a glorious setting. And if she happens across a priceless painting, well, that’s just icing on the cake.

Andie Summer is a Finder of Things and desperately needs this job; she’s down to her last few tins of baked beans. So looking for hidden treasure sounds right up her street, even if there was something very fishy about the mysterious Mr Mayfair who hired her. Because it’s just like she said to her faithful Basset Hound, Hamish; I saw something out of the corner of my eye as I was leaving, and you know what that means. It’s never good news when I see something out of the corner of my eye…

As the unlikely pair are thrown together, it soon becomes very clear however that they are not the only ones searching for the treasure. And they’re going to need all their ingenuity, resourcefulness, not to mention chocolate biscuits, if they’re ever going to untangle the web of secrets that surrounds Montague House. One that reaches even further than they ever thought possible…

Purchase Link – https://smarturl.it/MontagueHouse

Author Bio –

After a varied career, Emma Davies once worked for a design studio where she was asked to provide a fun and humorous (and not necessarily true) anecdote for their website. She wrote the following: ‘I am a bestselling novelist currently masquerading as a thirty-something mother of three.’ Well the job in the design studio didn’t work out but she’s now a fifty-something mother of three and is happy to report the rest of her dream came true.

After many years as a finance manager she now writes full time, and is far happier playing with words than numbers. She lives with her husband and three children in rural Shropshire where she writes in all the gaps in between real life.

Social Media Links –

@EmDaviesAuthor

www.facebook.com/emmadaviesauthor

www.instagram.com/authoremmadavies

With thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the cover reveal.

**BLOG TOUR** The Thief on the Winged Horse by Kate Mascarenhas

The Kendrick family own a successful doll making firm, but these are not your run of the mill dolls. Beautifully crafted from a range of materials, these dolls are magical, its creator having bestowed a particular emotion on it which is then felt by its owner. Although the company was founded by a family of sisters two hundred years ago, today, only the men are allowed to perform the sorcery needed to set these dolls apart. This does not sit well with Persephone Kendrick and she is determined to break this tradition, so when a stranger arrives claiming to be a descendant of one of the original sisters, she sees this as the opportunity she needs. One night, however, the family’s most valuable doll is taken. Only someone with a knowledge of their magic could have taken it, only one of the Kendrick family…

This is not my preferred fiction genre, but having loved the author’s previous book, The Psychology of Time Travel, I knew that I would enjoy this one. I was not wrong! This is very much a cross-genre book, with hints of mystery, fantasy, history and romance, but above all, it has a great story, one that kept me engrossed until the very last page.

Set in an eyot near Oxford, I loved how the inhabitants live, almost in their own world, part of modern society yet removed from it at the same time. There were times when I had to remind myself that this was set in the present day as the events could have taken place any time in the past few hundred years. I thought this was very clever as it helped to display the parochial aspect of their life whilst they were also partaking in the same activities as everyone else in the ‘outside world’.

One of the main themes in the book is how we should not underestimate women. Like in her previous book, the author has created a strong female cast with Persephone, in particular, determined to show that she could perform the traditional tasks of a male, if only she were given the opportunity. As the book progressed, we saw how in this seemingly patriarchal society, it was the women who actually held things together and I willed them to get their aim of progressing in the doll-making firm.

This is a clever book with a strong cast and an engaging plot. Kate Mascarenhas is an author whose work I will definitely be looking out for. 

With thanks to Head of Zeus and to Amber Choudhary for organising the blog tour. 

 

**BLOG TOUR** The Searcher by Tana French

When ex-cop Cal Hooper moves from Chicago to a remote Irish village after his divorce, he is just looking for a quiet life. When a local teenager visits, however, telling him that his older brother has disappeared, he is intrigued. What exactly has happened to Brendan Reddy and what secrets are being hidden in this quiet area of Ireland?

The Searcher is a standalone book from the author of the Dublin Murder Squad books, so you do not need to have read any of those before this one. Indeed, this is a very different book, a slow burner with very much a character-driven plot that draws you into the world of Cal and his young friend, Trey Reddy.

Like in all remote fictional villages, there is something that the locals want to keep hidden, so when Cal arrives, people are naturally suspicious of his motivation. His relationship with young Trey helps to fuel the fire and so soon, Cal is determined to help the teenager discover what had happened to his brother, someone who he is adamant wouldn’t just have left of his own volition. I really liked how we found out bits of the story at the same time as Cal, slowly edging towards a shocking conclusion.

Although this has a slow build-up, it does not mean that this book is devoid of exciting events – far from it! For me, though, the highlight is the friendship that develops between the two main characters. Despite his initial reluctance to help, Cal soon becomes fascinated by Trey and I feel that, as he is clearly missing his daughter, he is helping to fill a child-shaped void for him. Likewise, Trey has been deprived of a father figure for most of his life and Cal is probably the first adult that has ever given him the time of day.

The Searcher has some truly shocking moments and contains scenes that will make you so angry, you will want to cry for the life that Trey finds himself living. As the book progressed, I found myself become quite attached to Trey and Cal and hoped that, by the end, they would both find the peace that they needed.

I really enjoyed The Searcher and there will be some images that remain with me. With thanks to Tana French, Penguin UK and to Georgia Taylor for organising the blog tour.

**BLOG TOUR** The Forgotten Gift by Kathleen McGurl

1861

When George first sets eyes on Lucy, one of his household’s servants, he is smitten and is soon making plans for his future. After being rejected, however, his hopes are further thwarted when Lucy dies, seemingly the victim of a poisoning. Distraught, George knows that someone at home must have killed her, but who?


Present

Cassie is quite content with her life: a job she loves, friends she can rely on and doting parents who would do anything for her. All this is turned upside down, however, as research into her family history makes her question everything she thought she knew about her life.

I am a huge fan of Kathleen McGurl’s dual timeline novels, my favourite being The Daughters of Red Hill Hall. I was thrilled, therefore to see that the author has revisited my favourite era of historical fiction, the Victorian period, in her latest book, The Forgotten Gift.

As with her other books, we have two different plots set in two different time frames with a common theme running through them. The issue of family secrets is very much at the forefront here and the lengths some people will go to in order to stop these secrets from being revealed. I had great sympathy for George, who came across as a lovely young man, shunned by his family through no fault of his own. By starting the book with George’s will, I immediately became invested in his story, and was desperate to know what had happened in his life. This also provided a good link between the two time frames as Cassie tried to discover the same things.

As a fellow genealogist, I could relate a lot to the character of Cassie and loved how an enjoyable evening for her was one sat reading old documents, trying to make sense of the past. The discovery of scandal is an occupational hazard for a family historian, but Cassie manages to open up several cans of worms that have a profound effect on her life. I won’t give any spoilers, but I felt that this was sensitively handled, showing very real reactions from all involved parties.

I have, recently, been struggling to read books at my usual pace and I knew that a Kathleen McGurl book would help me out of my slump. I was so right as I raced through The Forgotten Gift, desperate to know what had happened in George’s life and how had overcome his problems. (Although I loved Cassie’s story, it was George who tugged at the heart strings for me!)

This is a wonderful read which, although fiction, gives a real insight into aspects of Victorian life. I have sung the praises of this author many times and I will continue to do so. If you haven’t read any of her work before, then please do – you won’t be disappointed!

With thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources, Kathleen McGurl, Net Galley ad HQ Digital for my copy of The Forgotten Gift.

Take a look at my reviews of other books by Kathleen McGurl:

   The Emerald Comb 
   The Pearl Locket
   The Daughters Of Red Hill Hall
   The Girl from Ballymor 
   The Drowned Village
   The Forgotten Secret
   The Stationmaster’s Daughter
   The Secret of the Chateau

Deadly Cry by Angela Marsons

A little girl is found in a busy shopping centre all alone, her mother, Katrina, having seemingly disappeared. When Katrina’s body is found in an abandoned building, DI Kim Stone is perplexed – why would anyone want to kill a mother out shopping with her young daughter? When a second body of a woman is found, killed in the same way, her young son missing, Stone fears that she has a serial killer on her patch. A letter purporting to be from the murderer addressed to Kim worries her even more – he needs to be found before something happens to the missing boy.

I think I am running out of words to say about the Kim Stone series as we are now thirteen books in and I am loving these books just as much as I did when it first started. From the first book, we have seen Kim’s team develop to the point where they are now like old friends to the reader, each person bringing their own skills to a close-knit group of detectives. I love how Kim trusts her team, letting them work on cases without too much interference, knowing that they can be relied upon to bring in the results.

The story has multiple plots, each one contributing towards a fascinating case for Kim. In addition to the murders, Stacey finds herself re-investigating two rapes where she wonders whether the right man has been convicted. Over the course of this series, we have seen Stacey’s character grow in confidence to the point where she now feels strong enough to question the work of other detectives. I found the end of the book intriguing and I can’t wait to see what plans Kim (and Angela!) has for Stacey in forthcoming books.

As well as the humour throughout the book, mainly in the interactions between Kim and Bryant, Angela Marsons is incredibly adept at pulling at the heartstrings. There is a very touching scene between Penn and his brother, Jasper, who are trying to come to terms with the death of their mother. Although a minor character, I have great affection for Jasper and enjoy the relationship he has with Penn and hope that he becomes a regular feature in later books.

The Kim Stone series is going from strength to strength and I am already looking forward to the next one. I’ve said it before but would a TV company please make this into a series?! It would be a sure-fire ratings winner!

With thanks to Bookouture and Net Galley for my ARC.

Take a look at my reviews for the rest of the series:

Silent Scream

Evil Games

Lost Girls

Play Dead

Blood Lines

Dead Souls

Broken Bones

Dying Truth

Fatal Promise

Dead Memories

Child’s Play

First Blood

Killing Mind

**PUBLICATION DAY PUSH** Sherlock Holmes and the Ripper of Whitechapel by M K Wiseman

The famous consulting detective Sherlock Holmes has been tasked by Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard to assist in the hunt for the notorious serial killer Jack the Ripper. Initially reluctant to join in the investigation, Holmes has to go it alone due to the recent marriage of his faithful partner, John Watson. The case takes a sudden turn, however, when the detective identifies a possible prime suspect – none other than Watson himself…

As someone who has a huge interest in the Jack the Ripper case and is also a big fan of Sherlock Holmes, this book ticked all the boxes for me! Over the years, I have read many takes on the identity of the Whitechapel murderer, and thought that everything that could have been written on this subject has already been done. I was pleased therefore, to see a new slant and was intrigued to see how the author would mix fictional characters with such a well-documented case.

This is a well-written pastiche of Conan Doyle’s original Sherlock Holmes stories which could almost be written by the author himself. The style and language took me straight back to the likes of A Study in Scarlet with one difference – this case is penned by Holmes himself, the usual scribe, Dr Watson being the subject of much of the detective’s musings.

We discover quite early on that Holmes has suspicions about his friend and I really like how the author keeps you waiting until near the end to discover whether these suspicions are well-founded. Like Holmes, I could not believe that Watson could possibly commit such heinous crimes, but the evidence definitely seemed to fit… You will have to read the book yourself to see the outcome!

Sherlock Holmes and the Ripper of Whitechapel is quite a short book so if you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes who is looking for a quick read with an engaging plot, then this could be the book for you. Thoroughly enjoyable.

With thanks to M K Wiseman and to Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources.

 

Purchase Link

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sherlock-Holmes-Ripper-Whitechapel-Wiseman-ebook/dp/B088P92XWC

US – https://www.amazon.com/Sherlock-Holmes-Ripper-Whitechapel-Wiseman-ebook/dp/B088P92XWC

Social Media Links

http://mkwisemanauthor.com

https://twitter.com/FaublesFables

https://www.facebook.com/FaublesFables/

https://www.instagram.com/faublesfables/https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7073540.M_K_Wiseman

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7073540.M_K_Wiseman

I was hoping to read a few more books than last month, but I’ve really struggled even though I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read. Hopefully you’ve had a more productive month than me!

Books I Have Read

Sherlock Holmes and the Ripper of Whitechapel by M K Wiseman

As a fan of the original Conan Doyle books and someone who has an interest in the Jack the Ripper case, this was right up my street! Written very much like a Conan Doyle, we see Holmes investigating the famous case, fearing that the perpetrator may be his friend, Dr Watson. Review will follow as part of the publication day push.


A Song For the Dark Times by Ian Rankin

The latest in the Rebus series is another fantastic read from Ian Rankin. When his daughter’s husband goes missing, the ex-detective finds himself involved in a case that is very close to home. This is a series that is showing no sign of losing its touch.


The Body on the Island by Nick Louth

When an unidentified body is found, Detective Chief Inspector Craig Gillard has his work cut out with not only working out who the man is, but trying to determine the cause of death. With the most bizarre MO I have read about in a while, this is a great addition to a brilliant series.


The Forgotten Gift by Kathleen McGurl

Another superb dual timeline novel from Kathleen McGurl takes us back to the Victorian era and an incredibly dysfunctional family. A great plot with some heart-wrenching moments, I really enjoyed this book. Review will fllow as part of the blog tour.


Books I Have Acquired

It has been three years since the death of Sherlock Holmes. Watson is now solving mysteries solo and he’s about to face his toughest one yet: the impossible murder of Mr Adair. What Watson doesn’t know is that this curious case will unearth secrets from beyond the grave …

The Sherlock Holmes Children’s Collection: Creatures, Codes and Curious Cases:

Sherlock Holmes returns! Facing beastly creatures, catching curious criminals and uncovering deadly secrets from beneath the sea are all in a day’s work for this world-famous detective and his faithful biographer, Watson, as they face their final (and most dangerous!) cases.

HAVE YOU EVER WANTED TO BE SOMEONE ELSE?

Vanessa has always found it easy to pretend to be somebody different, somebody better. When things get tough in her real life, all she has to do is throw on some nicer clothes, adopt a new accent and she can escape.

That’s how it started: looking round houses she couldn’t possibly afford. Harmless fun really. Until it wasn’t.

Because a man who lived in one of those houses is dead.

And everyone thinks Vanessa killed him…

500 years ago: eight martyrs were burnt to death
30 years ago: two teenagers vanished without trace
Two months ago: the vicar committed suicide


Welcome to Chapel Croft.

For Rev Jack Brooks and teenage daughter Flo it’s supposed to be a fresh start. New job, new home. But, as Jack knows, the past isn’t easily forgotten.

And in a close-knit community where the residents seem as proud as they are haunted by Chapel Croft’s history, Jack must tread carefully. Ancient superstitions as well as a mistrust of outsiders will be hard to overcome.

Yet right away Jack has more frightening concerns.

Why is Flo plagued by visions of burning girls?
Who’s sending them sinister, threatening messages?
And why did no one mention that the last vicar killed himself?

Chapel Croft’s secrets lie deep and dark as the tomb. Jack wouldn’t touch them if not for Flo – anything to protect Flo.

But the past is catching up with Chapel Croft – and with Jack. For old ghosts with scores to settle will never rest . . .


THEY KNOW WHAT YOU DID
You receive a call, an email, a text – someone knows your secret and they want to ruin you.

AND THEY’RE OUT FOR BLOOD
If you don’t do what they say, they’ll tell everyone what you’ve been hiding.
They will come after you, destroy you, and they aren’t afraid to kill.

IT’S TIME TO PLAY THE GAME


I’m currently reading The Searcher by Tana French which I’m really enjoying. A slow burner and I can’t wait to see where it leads.

Keep safe everyone!

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