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**Blog Tour** The Man on Hackpen Hill by J S Monroe

Crop circles often appear in Wiltshire but this one on Hackpen Hill is a bit different: the patterns seem to be trying to convey a message and the dead body in the middle is certainly not a common feature. DI Silas Hart is at a loss until he happens upon Jim, a Porton Down scientist who is convinced he is being pursued by MI5 for wanting to tell the truth about what is happening at the government laboratory. With Bella, a trainee journalist intent on telling Jim’s story, someone is desperate to stop the truth being told and is prepared to kill to achieve their aim.

This is an intense read that grabs you right from the very beginning and keeps you hooked until the last page. There is a lot going on with elements of mystery, thriller and police procedural but the short pacy chapters keep you gripped, making you want to read ‘just one more’ before putting it down. It is really well-researched and I do not claim to understand all of the science, but this did not hamper my understanding or enjoyment of the plot in any way.

There are two sets of main characters, each with a distinctive role in the plot. In Jim and Bella, we have like-minded people who have been thrown together by an unknown person, each of them reliant upon the other. I genuinely feared for Jim’s safety throughout the book as it becomes apparent that he seems to have information on what message the crop circles are trying to convey. Likewise, as Bella became more and more embroiled in Jim’s world, her well-being became more of a concern, especially as other aspects of her life start to become more worrying. I admired the courage of Jim and Bella; Jim in particular was a favourite character.

I loved the relationship between the two main police characters and enjoyed how the focus was very much on their part in the investigation and not on their private lives. I feel that there is scope for DI Hart and DC Strover to appear in another book so I hope it’s not the last we see of them.

I thoroughly enjoyed the intelligent plot of The Man on Hackpen Hill and found myself drawn into the plot, desperate to see if my theories were correct! A great read.

With thanks to Lauren Tavella from Head of Zeus for my copy.


People of Abandoned Character by Clare Whitfield

In London in 1888, former nurse Susannah thinks that she is about to start a new, secure life with her doctor husband Thomas. The honeymoon period is short, however, as Thomas begins to stay out late returning home covered in blood and with a temper that makes his new wife fear for her life. When a woman is murdered in Whitechapel, Susannah begins to take an interest in the newspaper reports, reading everything she can. When other women are killed in horrific circumstances, Susannah begins to realise that the deaths coincide with her husband being away from home. Could Thomas be the one they call Jack the Ripper?

I am always looking for a a different take on the Jack the Ripper story, whether it be fiction or non-fiction and so People of Abandoned Character piqued my interest immediately. What I found was that, although the premise of the book is that the protagonist suspects her husband of being the notorious killer, this is only the backdrop to what is a wonderful take on life for the poorer classes in London, in particular the plight of women who were unfortunate enough to find themselves in the slums of Whitechapel.

In People of Abandoned Character, we see Susannah, a product of Whitechapel, managing to secure herself a position as a nurse, providing her with a way out of the misfortune that befell her own mother. Despite this, the life of an unmarried woman in Victorian Britain was a precarious one and so it was easy to see why her head was turned by Thomas, a doctor several years her junior and why she felt compelled to marry him. The marriage was by no means a happy one and Clare Whitfield paints a terrifying picture of what Susannah had to endure at the hands of her husband and his housekeeper, Mrs Wiggs.

The descriptions of life in Whitechapel were incredibly clear and I could visualise the desperation of the people who lived there as they tried to survive. Although, as I wrote earlier, the murders are a backdrop to the rest of the plot, I was pleased to read about the victims when they were alive, the author giving them a voice instead of just portraying them as dead prostitutes.

As the book reached its exciting conclusion, I couldn’t wait to see if Susannah’s fears would be realised. The ending was full of shocks and was particularly macabre and gruesome. You will have to read the book to see if Thomas was Jack however…

People of Abandoned Character is a fantastic debut and I shall look forward to reading more of Clare Whitfield’s work.

With thanks to Head of Zeus and Net Galley for my copy.

**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. 

 

**COVER REVEAL** The Thief on The Winged Horse by Kate Mascarenhas

One of the most novel books I read last year (and probably the book with the best cover!) was The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas. I am pleased, therefore, to be able to take part in the cover reveal for Kate’s new book, The Thief on the Winged Horse, which looks amazing!

About the Book

A dazzling mixture of crime, romance, magic and myth from the acclaimed author of The Psychology of Time Travel.

The Kendrick family have been making world-famous dolls since the early 1800s. But their dolls aren’t coveted for the craftmanship alone. Each one has a specific emotion laid on it by its creator. A magic that can make you feel bucolic bliss or consuming paranoia at a single touch. Though founded by sisters, now only men may know the secrets of the workshop.

Persephone Kendrick longs to break tradition and learn the family craft, and when a handsome stranger arrives claiming doll-making talent and a blood tie to the Kendricks, she sees a chance to grasp all she desires.

But then, one night, the family’s most valuable doll is stolen. Only someone with knowledge of magic could have taken her. Only a Kendrick could have committed this crime…

About the Author

Kate Mascarenhas is a part-Irish, part-Seychellois midlander. Since 2017, Kate has been a chartered psychologist. Before that she worked as a copywriter, a dolls’ house maker, and a bookbinder. She lives with her husband in a small terraced house which she is slowly filling with Sindy dolls. Her first novel, The Psychology of Time Travel was published in 2018 to wide acclaim. This is her second novel.

The Cover

Pre-order links:

Waterstones: https://bit.ly/2Tkcvcq

Amazon: https://bit.ly/336YEJu
Google Play: https://bit.ly/2KbkofM

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2Zg9ugU

 

Follow Head of Zeus

Website: www.headofzeus.com

Twitter: @HoZ_Books

Facebook: @headofzeus

Instagram: @headofzeus

 

Publication date: 12th November

Formats: Hardback & eBook

#TheThief

 

With thanks to Vicky Joss and Head of Zeus.

 

**BLOG TOUR** Love Me To Death by Susan Gee

When a gruesome, homemade doll is found in Lyme Park, Stockport, the police are repulsed to discover that the hair once belonged to a human and that part of the scalp is still attached. Just where did this doll come from and is it connected to the discovery of the body of a young woman in the woods? In a town where everyone seems to be hiding something, who has got more to hide than most?

In Love Me To Death, we have two main protagonists. The first, Jacob, is a tragic character. Desperately missing his mum who has passed away, his life is being made a misery by his dad’s new partner, Paula, although no one else seems to realise what he is having to endure. He is not like the other boys, preferring to spend his time at the local library or drawing pictures of the love of his life, Maggie. My heart really went out to Jacob and, throughout the book I found myself rooting for him, hoping that his life would take a turn for the better.

It is whilst at the library that Jacob develops a sort of friendship with one of the librarians, Mr Anderson. Also his neighbour, it is not giving anything away to say that Mr Anderson is not the sort of person you would want to befriend! I found him a very complex character, and worried what his intentions were as he grew fonder of Jacob. There were definite similarities between the two characters and, despite the uneasiness I felt as the story progressed, I could see why they felt that there was a connection between them.

Although there were several parts of the story where it was obvious to see what was going to happen, there was one part that I did not see coming towards the end. This was a genuine surprise and the twist made complete sense – with hindsight, I felt I should have seen this coming!

With thanks to Head of Zeus, Aria Fiction and Net Galley for my ARC and to Vicky Joss for organising the blog tour.

**BLOG TOUR** The Scorched Earth by Rachael Blok

Two years ago, Leo Fenton went missing. Despite his body never being found, his brother, Ben was charged and convicted with his murder, although he has consistently denied any involvement. Now, a body has been found, in a newly-dug grave, close to the home of Ben’s girlfriend, Ana Seabrook. Who put it there and, if it is Leo, where has it been for the past two years? It is up to DCI Jansen and his team to try to make sense of what happened two years ago, and discover whether Ben has been imprisoned for a crime he did not commit.

From the start, I was convinced of Ben’s innocence, and felt that this was an incredibly well-planned murder with Ben being made the scapegoat. But why? This was the question I constantly asked myself, and I particularly enjoyed the chapters set prior to the disappearance of Leo as I tried to fathom out what happened that led to the event.

I had a lot of sympathy for Ana, whose life is turned upside down once the body is discovered. With the police convinced that she knows more than she is letting on and her paranoia that she is being watched, a claustrophobic atmosphere is created and you begin to genuinely fear for her safety. Although the secret she is hiding wasn’t that difficult to figure out, it did, again, make me ask questions as I wondered if this was what set off the chain of events.

This is one of those books where you know that one of the characters you meet along the way is going to end up playing a bigger role than you initially thought, and Rachael Blok has done a good job in adding several characters who could, potentially, be this person. Being convinced of Ben’s innocence, two characters in particular stood out to me, my suspicions wavering between the two throughout the book. With numerous secrets being hidden, either of these characters could have been the guilty party!

The Scorched Earth is a great thriller, with some very tense moments, and one that I enjoyed a great deal. I was not aware that the detective, DCI Maarten Jansen had appeared in a previous book, Under the Ice, but I will definitely be looking out for this one now!

WIth thanks to Head of Zeus  and Net Galley for my copy and to Vicky Joss for organising the blog tour.

 

**BLOG TOUR** Forget My Name by J S Monroe

Arriving at the airport to discover that her bag has been stolen, her passport, purse and key all gone, she tries to report it to the authorities but there is one huge problem – she can’t remember her name. The only thing that seems familiar is her home so that is where she heads, hoping that will help to trigger some more memories. Arriving at the door, however, she discovers a couple, Tony and Laura, living there and they have no recollection of her ever being there. Someone is lying, but who?

This is definitely one of those books where you cannot predict what is going to happen! Our lead character ‘Jemma’ is the ultimate unreliable narrator, her stress-related amnesia causing her to forget most of what has happened in her life with the exception of some rather important events. From the start, I didn’t know how I felt about her, unsure as to whether she was genuine or whether this was part of some elaborate scam. At the same time, I had great concern for her and hoped that she wasn’t allowing herself to become manipulated by another of the characters. My conflicting opinions of ‘Jemma’ continued throughout the book until we finally realise exactly what is happening. This kept me on the edge of my seat throughout, making it a very interesting reading journey.

From the outset, I had my concerns about Tony and Laura. If someone came to my house, claiming to live there, the last thing I would do would be to invite them to stay! It was obvious that there was something much bigger happening here, but what? Like ‘Jemma’, my opinions of Tony fluctuated throughout the book: was he genuine in his attempts to help her or was there something darker at play?

As I wrote earlier, it is impossible to predict what is going to happen in Forget My Name, although there were a few smaller points I did pick up on. There are a few red herrings thrown in along the way to help muddy the waters, meaning that I constantly found myself changing theories. I was shocked by what was revealed and immediately saw how clever one of the characters had been throughout the whole book.

Forget My Name is a clever book with a very novel plot, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed.

With thanks to Vicky Joss at Head of Zeus and Netgalley for my copy.

 

 

 

A Date With Death by Mark Roberts

When the body of a woman is found on the banks of the River Mersey, scalped and her facial features removed, links are immediately made to a recent murder in nearby Warrington. When a third body is found, bearing the same injuries, DCI Eve Clay knows that there is a particularly sadistic serial killer operating on her patch. Each of the dead women had one major thing in common – they were all hoping to find love on the same dating website. Eve feels that there is only one way to stop ‘The Ghoul’ and that is to go undercover online, posing as his perfect victim…

I’m a huge fan of Mark Roberts and A Date With Death was one of the books I was most looking forward to reading this year. Ever since reading the first in the DCI Eve Clay books, Blood Mist, this series has become one of my firm favourites and Eve has become one of my favourite characters. This book, the fifth in the series, keeps up the high standard that I have come to expect.

One of the things I like most about this series is that we don’t have ordinary, run of the mill serial killers – if there is such a thing! In the past, we’ve had bodies arranged in patterns and a paedophile killer but now we have someone who slices off the faces of their victims. For those, of a squeamish nature, we don’t actually read about the act itself, but we do, towards the end of the book, find out the reason why the killer does this, making for a very gruesome scene!

Eve Clay is a great character with a gripping backstory, her traumatic past shaping how she is today. Although you do not need to have read the previous books in the series to enjoy this one, I have really enjoyed seeing how her character has developed. Even though she is dealing with a particularly horrific case, she appears to be becoming more able to separate her professional and personal life, not fretting as much about her young son as she has done in previous books.

Mark Roberts has definitely done it again with A Date With Death, writing a gripping book, impossible to put down. I’m already looking forward to the next one – maybe, in the meantime, I’ll bump into Clay’s husband and son at Goodison Park!

 

 

 

 

 

**BLOG TOUR** Forget My Name by J. S. Monroe

Today, I am pleased to be the latest blog on the Forget My Name tour, the latest book by J. S. Monroe, whose previous book, Find Me, was definitely one of the most shocking reads of last year! It is my pleasure to be able to share an extract with you.

How do you know who to trust…

…when you don’t even know who you are?

You are outside your front door.

There are strangers in your house.

Then you realise. You can’t remember your name.

She arrived at the train station after a difficult week at work. Her bag had been stolen, and with it, her identity. Her whole life was in there – passport, wallet, house key. When she tried to report the theft, she couldn’t remember her own name. All she knew was her own address.

Now she’s outside Tony and Laura’s front door. She says she lives in their home. They say they have never met her before.

One of them is lying.

Tony positions himself in front of the door as I walk past him and up the stairs, my legs heavy with adrenaline. I try to picture the bedroom where I slept, remembering the layout of the house outside, which is single storey at the rear. There’s a sloping roof below the window, above the kitchen. Tiles and a central skylight.

I rush into the bedroom and look at my suitcase. There’s nothing I need in there and I have no intention of taking it with me. Instead, I grab my handwritten notes from the bedside table, skim read them again and fold them into the back pocket of my jeans. My hands are shaking. Tony is still at the bottom of the stairs. I walk across the landing and stand by the bathroom door.

‘Won’t be a minute,’ I call out.

I pull on the light cord and let it ping. Its handle is a carved wooden seahorse. I watch it whirl around for a second, feeling dizzy, and then I shut the bathroom door with its noisy farmhouse latch and tiptoe back to my room, closing the door behind me. The sash window opens more noisily than I expect and I slip one leg out onto the roof, desperate to get away.

‘What the hell are you doing?’

I spin round to see Tony standing in the bedroom doorway, arms folded. I stare at him and then turn back to the window. A robin on a tree in their back garden looks at me as if I’m the most stupid human on earth.

‘Running away isn’t going to help anyone,’ he says.

I don’t move. He’s right. I’ve made a mistake, thrown by the Jemma Huish development and the fact that she lived in this house. I just need to relax, trust the system.

‘I’m worried they’ll think I’m her,’ I say.

‘Listen, I dislike the cops more than most, but if you run now, you’re guilty. Period.’

I pull my leg in from the window and drop back into the bedroom, leaning against the window ledge. I’m embarrassed by my attempt to escape. It was the wrong move. Even the robin has flown off in disgust.

‘I’m sorry,’ I say. ‘I don’t know what I was thinking.’

‘It’s OK. We’ve all run away. It never helps.’

The room suddenly feels airless, intimate. As I pass him at the top of the stairs, he steps into my way and wraps his arms around me.

‘Here, let me give you a hug.’

I suppress my gut response to push him away and allow him to hold me. One, two, three seconds. And then I remove myself from his embrace. My breath shallowing, I follow him downstairs in silence and tell him I need the loo. After locking the door, I rest my forehead on the cold wall in front of me, close my eyes and try to think of the bodhi tree.

Forget My Name can be purchased here for only £2.48.

With thanks to Jade Gwilliam at Head of Zeus for organising the blog tour.

 

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