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**BLOG TOUR** The Reunion by Polly Phillips

Emily Toller has tried to put what happened to her at university out of her mind, the memories being too traumatic to think about. An invitation to a reunion stirs it all up and, for the first time, she contemplates facing her fears and returning to Cambridge. Has the time finally come to expose the truth and exact revenge on those who have made her life hell?

The Reunion is told from Emily’s perspective in two time frames: the present and her time at Cambridge University. I’ve always liked this way of telling a story and Polly Phillips uses this technique with expertise, whetting our appetite with events in the present then taking us back to the past to discover exactly led to this situation.

The characterisation is superb and I particularly enjoyed seeing the contrast in the personalities of certain characters from the present compared to their past. We know from quite early on that something happened that changed Emily, taking her from a promising Cambridge undergraduate to a woman who feels she has underachieved. What we don’t know, however, is what it was, and this is where the author’s superb plotting comes into play. It would have been easy to drop hints throughout the book but, instead, we are kept waiting to discover the truth about that fateful night in Cambridge. Desperate to find out the truth, I read The Reunion in a couple of sittings!

There are plenty of twists and turns along the way, most of which I didn’t see coming, making this one of the least predictable books I have read in a while. This is the first Polly Phillips book I have read but it certainly won’t be the last.

With thanks to Simon & Schuster and Tracy Fenton for organising the blog tour.

**BLOG TOUR** The Guilty Girl by Patricia Gibney

A party goes horribly wrong when the host, seventeen-year-old Lucy is found brutally murdered in her own home. For Detective Lottie Parker, the investigating officer, it’s all a bit too close to home when she finds out that her son, Sean, was at the party and could have information that will help her enquiry. In a case where everyone seems not to be telling the whole truth, time is definitely running out for Lottie as the threat of her being removed from the investigation is becoming increasingly real.

The eleventh book in the Lottie Parker series is probably the darkest to date, dealing with some very uncomfortable subjects that may act as a trigger for some. It is dealt with in a sensitive way with Patricia Gibney really pulling at your heart strings with one part in particular hitting me hard, showing that the author is not afraid to shock the reader.

What starts out as the detective trying to solve a murder soon turns into something much bigger, the plot not going in the direction I was expecting. There were plenty of shocks and twists along the way that really kept me on my toes and kept me guessing right until the end.

There was a great sub-plot featuring Lottie’s sergeant, Boyd, who due to revelations in a previous book, is not in Ragmullin but, instead, is in Spain dealing with a personal matter. I liked how he still became involved in the case and think that there are fun times ahead with a new character who definitely has the attributes to be a great detective!

This is definitely one of my favourite books in the series to date and hope that we get many more like this one.

With thanks to Bookouture and Net Galley.

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**BLOG TOUR** A Scandal in Bohemia by Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock Holmes has his interest piqued when a European king visits him at 221b Baker Street asking the detective for help in obtaining a photograph that puts the royal in a rather compromising situation. Sherlock soon finds himself pitted against Irene Adler, otherwise known as ‘The Woman’, in a battle of wits where there can only be one victor.

The Sherlock Holmes stories of Arthur Conan Doyle have certainly stood the test of time and are just as popular as ever thanks to the numerous film and television adaptations that have been made in recent years. This version, published by Books on the Hill, is part of their ‘Open Dyslexia’ Kickstarter, which aims to provide quality dyslexia-friendly books for adults written by well-known authors. At only 59 pages long, it is also ideal for anyone who is looking to start reading this series of books.

As you would expect from Conan Doyle, the plot is well-written and features all the things we have grown to love about the detective. This version is incredibly easy to read and retains the charm and intrigue of the original. We see a slightly more human side to the detective as he finds himself investigating a woman of high intellect who always seems to be one step ahead of those trying to outwit her.

More information about the Kickstarter can be found here and if all of the books are like this one, then I can highly recommend them.

With thanks to Books on the Hill and Kelly from Love Books Tours.

**BLOG TOUR** The Storm Girl by Kathleen McGurl

Present Day: After her divorce, Millie Galton has moved into an old house in Mudeford, determined to start afresh. Once work starts on the house, the fireplace reveals a secret that takes Millie back to the house’s original use and introduces her to the world of smuggling.

1784: When her father becomes unable to work, Esther Harris takes over his role of hiding smugglers’ contraband in the cellar of their pub. Knowing that she could be caught at any moment, secrecy is a must. When a battle occurs between the revenue men and the smugglers, people’s loyalties are tested to the limit and Esther has a decision to make: does she follow her heart or protect those she loves?

Kathleen McGurl’s dual timeline books are always a good read and this is no exception. I really got a feel for the geography and history of the locations used in The Storm Girl and could see the research that had been undertaken to make the plot as accurate as possible. The area was really brought to life in both time frames and I could easily visualise the pub and the activities that went on there.

I loved the character of Esther, a woman ahead of her time whose strength showed throughout the whole book. I admired her tenacity and loyalty and willed her to have a happy ending. Millie showed a different sort of strength in her willingness to leave everything behind and start a new life in a place she had no connection to.

The plot has a bit of everything: history, romance, murder… It moves on at a good pace and by switching the timeframes as you are reading, Kathleen McGurl leaves you wanting to know what is going to happen next all the time. The two stories, although set in different times, link together nicely and a mysterious event that happened in the past is solved in the present, providing yet another connection.

I always look forward to reading Kathleen McGurl’s latest book and she has certainly not disappointed with The Storm Girl.

With thanks to HQ Digital and Rachel’s Random Resources.

Take a look at my reviews of more of Kathleen McGurls books:

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

The Forgotten Gift

The Lost Sister

The Girl From Bletchley Park

**BLOG TOUR** Every Little Secret by Sarah Clarke

On the surface, Grace appears to have a great life, but all is not as it seems. When her seven-year-old daughter, Kaia, makes a series of serious allegations and her behaviour in school starts to give cause for concern, Grace does not know who or what to believe. With events from her past threatening to tear her family apart, just how far will she go to protect the people she loves the most?

Well, this is a story that really messed with my head! I love a story with an unreliable narrator and Sarah Clarke has taken this a step further in Every Little Secret. This is very much a character driven novel and I felt as though I developed a good understanding of Grace and her husband, Marcus, only for the rug to be pulled away from under me several times! My opinions of several of the characters constantly changed, to the point where I did not know who to believe!

The story is told in two main time frames – the present and when our main characters wee much younger. We soon discover that something has happened in the past that could potentially cause huge problems in the present and this story is gradually revealed as the book progresses. I found myself shocked on more than one occasion as we begin to realise that we don’t always truly know everything about those we love the most.

Every Little Secret is a very apt title as there are numerous secrets that people have kept hidden for many years, each one now impacting on the present. This twisty tale had me gripped from the start and the ending took my breath away.

With thanks to HQ Digital and Net Galley.

**BLOG TOUR** Sorry Isn’t Good Enough by Jane Bailey

It’s 1966 and nine-year-old Stephanie feels different. Having a ‘wonky foot’ due to polio when she was younger, she just wants to be loved but her strict church-going parents don’t make life easy for her. Her friend Dawn doesn’t help either so when she befriends Mr Man and his dog, Goldie, Stephanie finally sees a future for herself. When Dawn goes missing in the woods, someone knows more than they are saying and decades later, Stephanie wonders if what happened that summer is finally going to catch up with her.

The pace of this book was perfect, Jane Bailey giving us time to get to know the characters and allowing us to develop opinions of them. From the very start, my heart went out to Stephanie, a tragic character who just wants to be liked and appreciated, a theme which continues through to her adult life. Dawn, on the other hand, was a shocking character but there was definitely a hint of her also feeling the need to feel liked even though her methods of attracting attention were very different to Stephanie’s.

It is no spoiler to say that there is a major event in the book but what I liked was that it was not signposted in any way, leaving me constantly wondering what was going to happen. This slow approach certainly built up the suspense and I was definitely shocked when I realised where the story was going. There are several other shocking events throughout the plot that, at times, really tug on the heart strings and made me want to give Stephanie a huge hug.

This is very much a character-driven novel and Jane Bailey’s writing had me invested in the plot right from the start. A fantastic read.

With thanks to Orion and Net Galley and to Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Leaders for organising the blog tour.

**BLOG TOUR** The Lost by Simon Beckett

Ten years after the disappearance of his young son, firearms officer Jonah Colley is summoned to the onimously named Slaughter Quay by an old friend. Not knowing what he is going to discover, he finds himself caught up in a huge murder enquiry and, with no other witnesses, is placed firmly on the suspect list. Questioning everything he thought he knew about the previous ten years, Jonah must revisit his past in order to help him make sense of the present.

This is one of those books that instantly grabs your attention and holds it right until the very last page. I have read one of Simon Beckett’s books before (The Scent of Death) and after reading The Lost, I really must read the rest as the story telling is superb and the whole plot is extremely well-written.

In Jonah Colley, the author has created a great lead character, tenacious yet damaged. We see how events in his past have made him the man he is today and I found it easy to feel sympathy towards him. Some of his actions were definitely questionable and he seems to have a knack of getting himself further into bother, but this only endeared him to me even more as I willed him to finally be able to exorcise his demons.

The Lost has an engrossing plot which, at times, has hints of violence. This is all integral to the plot, however, and helped to create tension which left me wanting to read ‘just one more chapter’ before putting the book down!

I am so pleased that this is the first in a series as I am eager to see where Simon Beckett takes onah Colley next.

With thanks to Orion and Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Readers.

**BOOK TOUR** The Forgotten Gun by John Reid

Steve Burt’s time as a police officer is nearly up. Facing disciplinary action, he is surprised to receive a lifeline when he is asked to head a new unit looking at cases that have basically no chance of being solved. Burt and his team of two additional officers are given the ultimate mystery to work on – the murder of a man who has been shot at from a distance. With no witnesses and no physical evidence, it is looking increasingly likely that this case will remain unsolved. Enter Steve and his team…

I was really pleased to be given the opportunity to read The Forgotten Gun, a book that grabbed me straight from the opening chapter. On the surface, this is a crime that is never going to be solved, with a weapon that doesn’t seem to exist and an investigative team full of misfits. We soon learn, though, never to judge a book by its cover as Burt and his two junior officers, ‘Twiggy’ and ‘The Captain’, take on the challenge and finally get the opportunity to show their capabilities.

The plot moves on at a good pace and I liked how there was a big focus on the investigative process, information being gathered in mainly traditional ways. I also really loved the humour in the book and it felt like an accurate portrayal of three people working closely together. Twiggy, in particular, was a character who I really enjoyed and I admired her ‘don’t care’ attitude, determined to use any means necessary to try to solve the case.

The Forgotten Gun was a great read and one that I would recommend, especially if you’re looking for something not particularly lengthy.

With thanks to Kelly at Love Books Tours.

**BLOG TOUR** The Room in the Attic by Louise Douglas

In 1903, a woman is found by some fisherman, badly beaten, accompanied by her young daughter. They are taken to All Hallows, an asylum on Dartmoor where the woman falls into a coma, but her young daughter, Harriet, is taken to an attic room in the care of Nurse Emma Everdeen.

Ninety years later, in 1993, after the death of his mother, young Lewis Tyler is sent to All Hallows, which is now a boarding school. Finding a kindred spirit in Isak, they find out about Nurse Everdeen and her charge and soon they are determined to find out what happened back in 1903.

The introduction to the book grabbed me instantly as we see Lewis Tyler, in the present day, visiting All Hallows as part of his work. It is clear to see that he has a past with this building and we are left with a hint as to what it may be. This took us nicely to the two timeframes that form the majority of the book, Lewis featuring in the events of 1993.

I liked the character of Lewis immediately and had great sympathy towards his plight. An outsider, it was good to see him find a friend in Isak, another boy with a troubled life. I enjoyed the scenes they shared as they tried to discover the mystery behind the strange noises coming from the room above theirs – was it their imagination or something a bit more ghostly?

The part of the story set in 1903 had a huge sense of foreboding. Nurse Everdeen was a character who grew on me as the book progressed, her story tugging at the heartstrings on more than one occasion. Louise Douglas paints a very damning picture of life at the asylum and I almost felt relieved that Nurse Everdeen was in her claustrophobic room in the attic.

There were numerous shocks along the way, the denouement being a very pleasant surprise. I like it when a book suddenly takes you somewhere you were not expecting and The Room in the Attic definitely does this! This is an engrossing multi-genre read that kept me gripped right until the end.

With thanks to Boldwood Books and Rachel’s Random Resources.

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