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January 2021

**BLOG TOUR** The Burning Girls by C J Tudor

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.

When Reverend Jack Brooks is sent with teenage daughter, Flo, to work at a church in Chapel Croft, it’s fair to say that they are not exactly enthralled at the idea of moving from the city to a sleepy town. The town has strong superstitions linked to its past and is not overly welcoming to outsiders, preferring to keep its secrets well hidden. Soon, Jack has many concerns about their new home. Why is Flo plagued by visions of burning girls? Who is sending them threatening messages? Why is no one keen to mention that the previous vicar killed himself?

As a fan of C J Tudor’s previous books, The Chalk Man, The Taking of Annie Thorne and The Other People, I was thrilled to be invited to take part in the blog tour for her latest novel, The Burning Girls. I was immediately grabbed by the premise of the book, the historical aspect of Protestant martyrs during the reign of Mary I piquing my interest greatly. Combined with the 30-year-old cold case of two missing girls, I couldn’t wait to read!

I always expect a supernatural element with C J Tudor’s books, but after being completely thrown by the plot of The Other People, I was not sure what to expect. I know that some people are put off reading books if there is a ghostly aspect but, while there are mentions of the burning girls, appearances of two of the Protestant martyrs, this is a minor part of the plot, the focus being on the mysteries surrounding this tight-knit village.

The book has a Wicker Man feel about it as we are introduced to the main characters, Flo and her vicar parent, Jack. Being forced to relocate to a completely different church than they are used to, with villagers intent on keeping their secrets hidden and their traditions alive, it’s not long before you realise that Jack and Flo’s lives are in danger. Just who is leaving the threatening replica burning girls and what are they trying to cover up? I really liked the two main characters, both of them not conforming to the traditional image of what a teenage girl and a vicar should act like.

There are several plots running through the book, each of them becoming intertwined as the story progressed. There is a sense of foreboding throughout which kept me on my toes as I tried to work out what had been happening in this village and who was responsible. C J Tudor has done a great job in tying all of these threads together to give a satisfying

conclusion, although I am pleased with myself for guessing what one of the big plot twists would be! One reveal had me shocked, however, especially as I felt I should have picked up on a movie-related clue that was given!

C J Tudor has definitely got another hit on her hands with The Burning Girls and I can’t wait to see what she gives us next.

With thanks to Michael Joseph and Net Galley for my copy and to Gaby Young for organising the blog tour.

**BLOG TOUR** The Island by C L Taylor

Six teenage friends decide to spend a week on a a remote tropical island, something that, on the face of it, sounds idyllic. This is no ordinary holiday, however, as they will be living off the land with just one guide to help them survive. When the guide has a stroke and dies, the teenagers begin to panic: with no way of getting back to the mainland and with limited means of acquiring food, how will they survive? Soon, when strange things start to happen, they realise that maybe they have more to worry about than they at first thought…

One of my favourite books of last year was Sleep by the same author, which was about a murderer on the remote Scottish island of Rum. I really enjoyed the claustrophobic atmosphere and so when I saw that this one had a similar setting, albeit on a slightly warmer island, I couldn’t wait to read it! I am not a big reader of YA fiction, but I knew that as this was written by C. L. Taylor, I’d love it. I was right!

Although there are some important events leading up to their arrival on the island, it is once they actually got there that I became fully invested in the plot. What seems, initially, like a Bear Grylls-type adventure soon evolves into some kind of Lord of the Flies scenario when their guide tragically dies, leaving them to fend for themselves until someone realises that they are missing. The teenagers soon discover that strange events begin to happen, leaving them to wonder who they can trust. Is there someone else on the island with them or should they be looking amongst themselves for the person who is wreaking havoc?

The setting of the plot really helps to create a sense of foreboding where you wonder how on earth they are going to escape from these hellish conditions. I rushed through the book, desperate to find out how it would end and whether there would still be six teenagers leaving the island or whether any would not make it out alive. I had my suspicions throughout the book about what was actually happening and who was responsible, but was thrown completely off the scent by the author’s great plot.

The Island is a great quick read for anyone wanting a story they can totally immerse themselves in. C. L. Taylor is fast becoming one of my favourite authors.

With thanks to HQ and Net Galley for my copy and to Sian Baldwin for organising the blog tour.

My Eagerly Anticipated Books of 2021

Some of my most anticipated books of last year appeared on my favourites list, so let’s see what this year brings!

The sudden appearance of a man’s booted feet had Addis snapping her mouth shut. Screaming, she kicked out at the tall, muscular guy as he dragged her from beneath the desk…

It was a scene from a horror movie; Gabriel Kensington and his wife Lydia found, brutally slain in their luxurious home in New Mexico. The frantic, whispered phone call from their teenage daughter Addis, spending the evening with best friend Emerson, quickly alerts the authorities to the killings – and worse, that the killer is still inside the house.

But when detective Alyssa Wyatt and the squad appear at the house, the unthinkable has happened – the girls are nowhere to be found.

Waking up in a dilapidated cabin, nestled high in the woods north of Albuquerque, the girls find themselves at the mercy of a brutal stranger who could take their life at any moment. While they fight for survival, it’s up to Alyssa Wyatt and her partner Cord to discover just why the Kensingtons have been targeted – and fast.

Because for Addis and Emerson, solving this mystery might just mean the difference between survival – or an unthinkable death…


The Night Hawks, a group of metal detectorists, are searching for buried treasure when they find a body on the beach in North Norfolk. At first Nelson thinks that the dead man might be an asylum seeker but he turns out to be a local boy, Jem Taylor, recently released from prison. Ruth is more interested in the treasure, a hoard of Bronze Age weapons. Nelson at first thinks that Taylor’s death is accidental drowning, but a second death suggests murder.

Nelson is called to an apparent murder-suicide of a couple at the isolated Black Dog Farm. Local legend talks of the Black Shuck, a spectral hound that appears to people before they die. Nelson ignores this, even when the owner’s suicide note includes the line, ‘He’s buried in the garden.’ Ruth excavates and finds the body of a giant dog.

All roads lead back to this farm in the middle of nowhere, but the place spells serious danger for anyone who goes near. Ruth doesn’t scare easily. Not until she finds herself at Black Dog Farm …


A portrait painting is stolen from a London home. Shortly afterwards, the owner, Nat, calls on genealogist, Jefferson Tayte, for his help. She believes the subject of the painting, a young girl called Jess, is a past relative and wants to learn more about her. The problem is that Nat’s research has hit a brick wall – Jess appears to have vanished from the slums of Victorian London soon after the portrait was painted.

When Tayte learns that the theft is connected with a recent murder, he’s right to be wary, but solving crimes through genealogical research is what he does best. He quickly becomes intrigued by the girl in the painting and agrees to help. What became of her? Who stole the painting, and why would they kill for it all these years later?

As Tayte and Nat go in search of the answers, can they solve the mystery and bring the murderer to justice? Or will they become the killer’s next victims?



When Detective Clayton Tyler is tasked with reviewing the formidable archives of unsolved homicides in his police department’s vaults, he settles on one particular cold case from the 1980s: The Chester Creek Murders. Three young women were brutally murdered—their bodies dumped in Chester Creek, Delaware County—by a serial killer who has confounded a slew of detectives and evaded capture for over thirty-eight years. With no new leads or information at his disposal, the detective contacts Venator for help, a company that uses cutting-edge investigative genetic genealogy to profile perpetrators solely from DNA evidence. Taking on the case, Madison Scott-Barnhart and her small team at Venator must use their forensic genealogical expertise to attempt finally to bring the serial killer to justice. Madison, meanwhile, has to weigh professional and personal issues carefully, including the looming five-year anniversary of her husband’s disappearance.


Brighton, 1965

When theatrical impresario Bert Billingham is found dead in his retirement home, no one suspects foul play. But when the postmortem reveals that he was poisoned, suspicion falls on his wife, eccentric ex-Music Hall star Verity Malone.

Frustrated by the police response to Bert’s death and determined to prove her innocence, Verity calls in private detective duo Emma Holmes and Sam Collins. This is their first real case, but as luck would have it they have a friend on the inside: Max Mephisto is filming a remake of Dracula, starring Seth Bellingham, Bert’s son. But when they question Max, they feel he isn’t telling them the whole story.

Emma and Sam must vie with the police to untangle the case and bring the killer to justice. They’re sure the answers must lie in Bert’s dark past and in the glamorous, occasionally deadly, days of Music Hall. But the closer they get to the truth, the more danger they find themselves in…


A child’s body in an unmarked grave. A killer waiting to strike again.

A young boy’s body is found in a meadow beside the River Mersey. No DNA. No witnesses. No clues. It brings back painful memories of the Moors Murderers.

After two weeks, the police have made no progress finding the killer. The one thing they do know; he will kill again. It is a race against time – and they are losing.

DI Thomas Ridpath has just returned to work. Diagnosed with PTSD and undergoing supervised psychological therapy, he is dragged into the case against his better judgement. When another murder in Liverpool ups the ante, Ridpath must confront his own demons to stop a child killer before he strikes again.


I’m also hoping for a new Tennison novel by Lynda La Plante, anything by Steve Cavanagh and Kathleen McGurl and, of course, anything by Mark Billingham and Ian Rankin never goes amiss!

Are any of these books on your wanted list?

Inside 10 Rillington Place by Peter Thorley

The events that occurred at 10 Rillington Place in the 1940s and 50s have become the subject of numerous books, documentaries, television serials and films. How much of this, however, paints an accurate picture of what actually happened? This is something that the author has tried to answer, using his first-hand experience of the house to discuss the real personalities of the two convicted killers that lived there: John Reginald Halliday Christie and Timothy Evans.

Before I give my opinion of the book, a little background information is needed for those unfamiliar with the case. In 1949, Timothy Evans was charged with the murder of his wife, Beryl, and his young daughter, Geraldine, whilst the family were living at 10 Rillington Place. Evans was, the following year, found guilty and was hanged at Pentonville Prison. In 1953, a horrific discovery occurred at the house when the bodies of several more women were found hidden in an alcove. Christie was subsequently arrested, he too being hanged at Pentonville. How probable was it that there were two unconnected murderers living at the house at the same time? With much of Evans’ prosecution evidence coming from Christie, there were questions asked about the fairness of his trial. Consequently, in 1966, Evans received a posthumous pardon for the murder of his daughter although it was still deemed likely that he had killed his wife.

I have read quite a lot about this case over the years, but this was the first time I’d read something from the perspective of someone so personally involved. The author, Peter Thorley, was Beryl’s younger brother and was someone who spent a bit of time at 10 Rillington Place visiting his sister and young niece. His insights into Beryl and Timothy’s life was fascinating, painting a picture of a truly unhappy marriage, with Beryl being the victim of her husband’s anger on practically a daily basis. I had great sympathy for Peter who, as her younger brother, felt powerless to help and angry that no one else in the family would listen to his fears.

Perhaps the biggest surprise to me was Peter’s attitude towards Christie. The young Peter certainly didn’t see a murderous side to him, and he actually felt that he liked children. Could this man, therefore, really have been responsible for the death of young Geraldine or were the original charges correct and Evans did actually kill his young daughter? The author definitely gives food for thought.

While this is a comprehensive account of the events at 10 Rillington Place, for me this was more about getting to know Beryl. In everything I have read and seen, there has never been a focus on the victim, something which Peter Thorley has put right here. My heart went out to Peter who found himself on the other side of the world when the murder happened, unable to be there for his beloved sister.

If you have an interest in true crime, I can thoroughly recommend this book. It is a well-written account of an infamous murder case with a personal slant which takes you right into the heart of 10 Rillington Place. I commend Peter Thorley for telling Beryl’s story.

With thanks to Net Galley and Mirror Books for my copy.

My Books of 2020

What a year it was, and not in a good sense. I was disappointed not to attend many book events during 2020 but have loved some of the online events that authors have managed to do. Despite book shops being closed for much of the year, I was so pleased to see that there have still been some amazing books published so, in no particular order, here is a slideshow of my favourite 10 books of 2020, the links taking you to my reviews.

Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton

When the Past Kills by M J Lee

The Resident by David Jackson

The Heatwave by Katerina Diamond

The Glass House by Eve Chase

Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh

Strangers by C L Taylor

The Sterling Affair by Nathan Dylan Goodwin

The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths

Killing Mind by Angela Marsons

Did any of these feature on your list?

The Game by Luca Veste

It starts with some form of communication you can’t ignore: a phone call, a text, an email… The person you’re communicating with knows your secret and if you don’t play The Game, it will be revealed. Complete each level and you may be able to leave; fail and your fate is in the hands of some unknown puppet master.

After enjoying Luca Veste’s previous standalone books, The Bone Keeper and The Six, I couldn’t wait to read The Game – even if I do still live in hope for another in the Murphy & Rossi series! In The Game, we have probably one of the most twisted killers the author has written about and yet, for me, the scary part was that I could actually imagine something like this happening in real life!

When a young woman goes missing, DC Mark Flynn feels that there is more to this case than meets the eye. Going against what his colleagues believe has happened, he begins to investigate an online challenge known as ‘The Game’, linking the disappearance to the death of another young woman nearby. Although Mark found himself flying solo for the majority of the time, he is not the typical maverick detective you find in police procedurals, finding himself an outsider through circumstance not choice. I liked Mark, admiring his perseverance even though his beliefs pushed him further away from the rest of the squad.

The internet has become a feature of many crime books in recent years and here, Luca Veste has definitely demonstrated the negative side. As I said earlier, as the plot develops and we discover how people are ‘recruited’ to play The Game, you begin to realise how this could actually happen in the real world and how important it is to remember the consequences that online comments can have.

I really enjoyed The Game and hope that this isn’t the last we hear of Mark Flynn.

With thanks to Net Galley and Simon & Schuster UK for my copy.

Monthly Round Up: December 2020

The last month of the year and I’d hoped to make a dent in the books that appear to be multiplying on Net Galley, but instead I seem to have added some more! I am a bit late with this month’s round up as I’ve had no internet access for over a week – nightmarish first world problem!

Books I Have Read

People of Abandoned Character by Clare Whitfield

A great new take on the infamous Jack the Ripper story. When a young woman starts to suspect that her new husband could be the Whitechapel killer, we are drawn deep into the London underbelly that is not featured on any tourist map.

Lost by Leona Deakin

The second in the Dr Augusta Bloom series follows the aftermath of an explosion. When one of the injured disappears only to reappear some time later, there is a mystery to solve. Where did he go and why can’t he remember anything about what has happened to him? I’m enjoying this series and have downloaded the third book to read soon.

The Christmas Carol by M J Lee

Genealogist Jayne Sinclair takes on an unusual case when she is asked to prove the provenance of a first edition of A Christmas Carol. Taking us back to Victorian Manchester and the possible inspirations for many of the characters, we encounter Charles Dickens as he sees how the mill workers of Lancashire live. A great festive tale.

Silent Night by Nell Pattison

The second in the Paige Northwood series sees the sign language interpreter aiding the police when a deaf teenager goes missing and his head teacher is found murdered. This is another series I am really enjoying due to the different slant taken on the investigation.

The Island by C L Taylor

A YA book from an author whose books I have loved over the past few years. A group of teenagers aim to spend a week on a deserted island, living off the land with the help of a local guide. When things go drastically wrong, their lives are put in danger. Can they work out what is going on and escape from their nightmare? Review will form part of this month’s blog tour.

The Burning Girls by C J Tudor

When a vicar arrives at their new church, it is not long before they realise that all is not well in this village. Just what exactly happened to the previous vicar and why are people still obsessed with the burning of local marytrs hundreds of years previously? This is another sure-fire hit for the author of The Chalk Man. My review will form part of the blog tour later this month.

The Game by Luca Veste

When a young woman goes missing and another is found dead, D C Mark Flynn has his work cut out trying to convince his colleagues that the cases are connected and that they are players of something known as ‘The Game’. Just who is the shadowy figure behind this game and can the players ever leave?

Books I Have Acquired

Silent Voices by Patricia Gibney

The words blurred as she read the note from the killer. She could feel her blood turning to ice. Shivers ran up and down her spine. ‘Before you make the biggest mistake of your life, meet me. If you don’t, her blood will be on your hands. She is with me. You know where to find us’.

When twenty-five-year-old Beth Mullen returns home, expecting to find her twin Rachel waiting for her, the silent house sends a shiver down her spine. She races upstairs to find her beautiful beloved sister cold in her childhood bed, her sparkling blue eyes closed forever, the morning after attending a glittering party…

Newly engaged Detective Lottie Parker knows that Rachel has been murdered the minute she enters the bedroom. Rachel’s neck is bruised and a shard of glass placed in her throat. Confronted with such a horrifying killing, Lottie wastes no time in pursuing every clue.

While interviewing the partygoers, Lottie discovers that Rachel’s handbag and keys are nowhere to be found. But as she is searching for them, a brilliant young doctor is found murdered with glass in her throat. The doctor was nowhere near the party and Lottie is forced to question everything. Two beautiful young women with the world at their feet have been brutally silenced. Why did the killer need them to die?

Desperate to find proof of what really happened to Rachel that night, Lottie gets close to the hostess of the party, whose two daughters were friends with Rachel. But Lottie’s hunt for the truth is getting under the killer’s skin, and when Lottie’s fiancé Boyd goes missing, will she be able to find him before it’s too late? Or will he too be silenced forever?

The Night Hawks by Elly Griffiths

The Night Hawks, a group of metal detectorists, are searching for buried treasure when they find a body on the beach in North Norfolk. At first Nelson thinks that the dead man might be an asylum seeker but he turns out to be a local boy, Jem Taylor, recently released from prison. Ruth is more interested in the treasure, a hoard of Bronze Age weapons. Nelson at first thinks that Taylor’s death is accidental drowning, but a second death suggests murder.

Nelson is called to an apparent murder-suicide of a couple at the isolated Black Dog Farm. Local legend talks of the Black Shuck, a spectral hound that appears to people before they die. Nelson ignores this, even when the owner’s suicide note includes the line, ‘He’s buried in the garden.’ Ruth excavates and finds the body of a giant dog.

All roads lead back to this farm in the middle of nowhere, but the place spells serious danger for anyone who goes near. Ruth doesn’t scare easily. Not until she finds herself at Black Dog Farm …

Judas Horse by Lynda La Plante

‘Do you know what a Judas Horse is? When the wild mustangs are running free, you corral one and train it. When he’s ready, you release him and he’ll bring his team back into the corral – like Judas betraying them…’

Violent burglars have been terrorising residents across the English countryside. But when a mutilated body is discovered in a Cotswolds house, it becomes clear that this is no ordinary group of opportunist thieves.

As Detective Jack Warr investigates, he discovers locals with dark secrets, unearths hidden crimes – and hits countless dead ends. With few leads and the violent attacks escalating, he will have to act as audaciously as the criminals if he hopes to stop them.

When Warr meets Charlotte Miles, a terrified woman with links to the group, he must use her to lure the unsuspecting killers into one last job, and into his trap. But with the law already stretched to breaking point, any failure will be on Warr’s head – and any more blood spilled, on his hands…

Hunt by Leona Deakin

The Foreign Secretary is being held under the Terrorism Act. He will answer the police’s questions on one condition – they let him speak to Dr Augusta Bloom.

He asks Bloom to track down his niece, Scarlett, who hasn’t spoken to her family for ten years. The last they heard, Scarlett was getting involved with Artemis – an organisation dedicated to women’s rights and the feminist movement, led by the charismatic Paula Kunis.

But as Bloom learns more about Artemis, she’s torn. Is this organisation everything it claims to be, or do they have a secret side and an alternative agenda? And if so, what has become of Scarlett?

The only way to find out for sure is for Bloom to go undercover. But will she make it out safely – or will she become the next Artemis woman to disappear?

The Girl on the Platform by Bryony Pearce

‘The train doesn’t slow. We aren’t stopping. We are going to burn past, leaving her behind in a swirl of leaves and dust. I blink. And then men are there, two of them. They lift the squirming girl to her feet, haul her towards the van… and then we are past.’

I am the girl on the platform.
When new mother Bridget catches her train home from London, she witnesses something terrible: a young girl is taken from the platform, right before her eyes. 
No one knows where I am.
But no one is reported missing and with Bridget the only witness, she is written off as an attention seeker. Nobody believes her – not even her own husband.
Can you find me? 
But Bridget knows what she saw, and becomes consumed with finding the little girl. Only she can save the child’s life… but could delving into the mystery cost Bridget her own?

A Del of a Life by David Jason

”So lithe,’ they say. ‘So spry and sparkling. So uncannily youthful. How on earth do you do it?’

Well, what can I tell you? An hour of tai chi first thing in the morning, an HIIT work-out with my personal trainer, a bowl of steamed kale and a handful of almonds for lunch, and then two hours of yoga in the afternoon followed by an ice bath – this is a routine which I’m sure would work miracles for anyone of any age, although I can’t be entirely sure because I haven’t myself adopted any aspect of it at any point.

Fortunately, during my life and career I have been given all sorts of advice and learned huge amounts from some great and enormously talented people. I’ve been blessed to play characters such as Derek Trotter, Granville, Pop Larkin and Frost, who have changed my life in all sorts of ways, and taught me lessons that go far beyond the television set. And I’ve worked a few things out for myself as well, about friendship, ambition, rejection, success, failure, adversity and fortune.

With any luck, some of these thoughts and observations will chime with episodes and challenges you have faced, or are facing, in your own life. And if they don’t… well, hopefully, at the very least you’ll get to have a good old laugh at my expense.

So lean back, pour yourself a glass, and try not to fall through the bar flap . . .’

Why Mummy’s Sloshed by Gill Sims

I just wanted them to stop wittering at me, eat vegetables without complaining, let me go to the loo in peace and learn to make a decent gin and tonic.  
It genuinely never occurred to me when they were little that this would ever end – an eternity of Teletubbies and Duplo and In The Night Bastarding Garden and screaming, never an end in sight.  But now there is.  And despite the busybody old women who used to pop up whenever I was having a bad day and tell me I would miss these days when they were over, I don’t miss those days at all.  
I have literally never stood wistfully in the supermarket and thought ‘Oh, how I wish someone was trailing behind me constantly whining ‘Mummy, can I have, Mummy can I have?’ while another precious moppet tries to climb out the trolley so they land on their head and we end up in A&E.  
Again.

Mummy has been a wife and mother for so long that she’s a little bit lost. And despite her best efforts, her precious moppets still don’t know the location of the laundry basket, the difference between being bored and being hungry, or that saying ‘I can’t find it Mummy’ is not the same as actually looking for it.

Amidst the chaos of A-Levels and driving tests, she’s doing her best to keep her family afloat, even if everybody is set on drifting off in different directions, and that one of those directions is to make yet another bloody snack. She’s feeling overwhelmed and under appreciated, and the only thing that Mummy knows for sure is that the bigger the kids, the bigger the drink.

Wishing everyone a very happy new year!

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