Island of Secrets by Rachel Rhys @MsTamarCohen @annecater #randomthingstours #historicalfiction #bookreview

I am absolutely delighted to share my review today for Island of Secrets by Rachel Rhys. My thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my e-copy of this fabulous book.

Let me show you what it is all about…

‘Say, wouldn’t it be a gas if all of us here are pretending to be something we’re not?’


1957: Iris Bailey is bored to death of working in the typing pool and living
with her parents in Hemel Hampstead. A gifted portraitist with a talent for
sketching guests at parties, she dreams of becoming an artist. So she can’t
believe her luck when wealthy socialite Nell Hardman invites her to
Havana to draw at the glittering wedding of her Hollywood director father.


Iris is thrilled to escape to a faraway city by the sea. But she soon realizes
that the cocktails, tropical scents and azure skies mask a darker reality. As
Cuba teeters on the edge of revolution and Iris’s heart melts for troubled
photographer Joe, she discovers that someone in the charismatic Hardman
family is hiding a terrible secret. Can she uncover the ugly truth behind the
glamour and the dazzle before all their lives are torn apart?


‘Rachel Rhys should be on everyone’s summer reading lists’
CLARE MACKINTOSH

Puchase link – Amazon UK

Oh my goodness I absolutely adored this book. The title suggests that there are secrets, but trying to work out what they are and who they are about is something else. The setting of Cuba in the mid 1950’s is wonderful for this story and it has a glamorous feel to it as I followed Iris, an artist from England, as she is hired to draw people who will be attending the wedding of Hugo and Lana.

I liked Iris a lot and I think she is the only character who I felt was honest, the others all seemed to have something to hide. For me, Iris was a naive woman but also one who was curious. She is a character who yes appears honest but she has something that she is holding back on, by this I mean that she is not being completely honest with herself. This trip will either make or break her as she works out what she wants with her life.

As the setting is Cuba and it is the 50’s, there are the obvious mentions of Castro and Guevara, there are political tensions and it is not exactly the idyllic island paradise. While the house that all the guests are staying at is perfectly safe, there are mentions of politics, and of rebels in the mountains. I liked how these were mentioned but not dwelt on too much.

Now as for the secrets, well there are so many and as I said trying to work out who was completely honest was something else. But not once did I feel confused, the author has set the story out perfectly and it made for effortless reading. The reveals as and when they came were good and they caught me out several times.

The story is about a family and an extended family, they are privileged, have property and status. But beneath the beautiful and shiny exterior there is something not so pretty.

I loved this story and I was completely captivated by it. I think it is a wonderful historical fiction and I would definitely recommend it.

Rachel Rhys is the pen-name of a much-loved psychological suspense author. She is the author of the Richard and Judy bookclub pick, Dangerous Crossing and the bestselling A Fatal Inheritance. Rachel Rhys lives in North London with her family.

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Escape to the French Farmhouse by Jo Thomas @jo_thomas01 @annecater #randomthingstors #romance #Bookreview

I am delighted to share my review for Escape to the French Farmhouse by Jo Thomas. This is an author who I will automatically read without reading a synopsis, and will always make room for. She has such a fabulous style and I love her stories. My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my e-copy of the book.

Let ma show you what it is all about…

A heart-warming tale of a woman reclaiming her life in the lavender fields of Provence. Filled with warmth and recipes.

Can she find her recipe for happiness?


Del and her husband Ollie moved to a beautiful village in Provence for a fresh start after years of infertility struggles. But six weeks after they arrive, they’re packing the removal van once more. As Del watches the van leave for England, she suddenly realises exactly what will make her happier… a new life in France – without Ollie.


Now alone, all Del has is a crumbling farmhouse, a mortgage to pay and a few lavender plants. What on earth is she going to do? Discovering an old recipe book at the market run by the rather attractive Fabian, Del starts to bake. But can her new-found passion really help her let go of the past and lead to true happiness?


A heart-warming tale about reclaiming your life, set amongst the lavender fields of Provence.


Perfect escapism from the author of Late Summer in the Vineyard and The Honey Farm on the Hill.

What a gorgeous book this was as Jo Thomas once again delivers a wonderful read. Del and Ollie had dreams of a new life in rural Provence, unfortunately their marriage is rather like the old house they move into, crumbling! They both decide it is time to go back home, but Del has a change of heart and decides to stay.

Thank goodness for Ralph, loyal if a little disobedient, Oh he is the dog by the way. With her mind made up, Del decides to make a go of living in a foreign country alone, with no money and no friends. As she starts to find her way around the local market, she learns a little more about the farmhouse and the lavender that used to be grown there.

It is not long before Del finds that there is more to her than meets the eye, a shame she doesn’t see it herself. This is a gorgeous book with some fabulous characters, Dell herself is one of life’s helpers and people seem to be drawn to her.

With stunning scenery and characters what is there not to like. While all sounds perfect and idyllic there are clouds on the horizon and they show themselves soon enough.

This is another wonderful read and one that definitely warms the heart. Uncertainty and nerves of a new start and the support of friends help move this story along and I was easily transported to the perfumed lavender hills of the location and I stayed there for the whole afternoon as I read this book from start to finish. This is another Jo Thomas book that I would definitely recommend. A wonderful read that is an ideal for for pure escapism from everyday life.

Jo Thomas worked for many years as a reporter and producer, first
for BBC Radio 5, before moving on to Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and
Radio 2’s The Steve Wright Show. In 2013 Jo won the RNA Katie
Fforde Bursary. Her debut novel, The Oyster Catcher, was a
runaway bestseller in ebook and was awarded the 2014 RNA Joan
Hessayon Award and the 2014 Festival of Romance Best Ebook
Award. Jo lives in the Vale of Glamorgan with her husband and
three children.

Follow Jo on Twitter Website

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Goldilocks by Laura Lam @LR_Lam @annecater #randomthingstours #Goldilocks #thriller #dystopian #Bookreview

I am delighted to share my review for Goldilocks by Laura Lam. This is not the Goldilocks that you will know from childhood stories, this Goldilocks refers to a Zone deep in space…

Let me show you more about the book…

A bold, thought provoking and high-concept feminist dystopian thriller.


Ravaged by environmental disaster, greed and oppression, our planet is in crisis. The future of humanity hangs in the balance – and one woman can tip it over.


Despite increasing restrictions on the freedoms of women on Earth, Valerie Black is spearheading the first all-female mission to a planet in the Goldilocks Zone, where conditions are just right for human habitation.


It’s humanity’s last hope for survival, and Naomi, Valerie’s surrogate daughter and the ship’s botanist, has been waiting her whole life for an opportunity like this – to step out of Valerie’s shadow and really make
a difference.


But when things start going wrong on the ship, Naomi starts to suspect that someone on board is concealing a terrible secret – and realises time for life on Earth may be running out faster than they feared…

This book was more than just a story about space travel and sci-fi. For me it was about the relationships between 5 women who basically steal a space ship, as you do, to start a new base on a far distant planet, it is their relationships with each other that made the story work so well for me.

It is set in the future, Earth is dying, climate control has left harsh conditions, diseases are rife and ever-evolving strains are becoming harder to treat… this sounds terrifyingly real at this point in our lives.

The story is set out in a before and now style and is set out in shortish chapters as it flits between the times. They are very easy to follow as they have been marked with dates and days.

Women are gradually being side-lined as men take the first steps into space travel to potentially find a new world where the human race can begin again, and hopefully not make the mistakes of the past. The five women are scientists and experts in their field, they are the ones that know the ins and outs of Atlanta, a space hub that will take them to a new planet called Cavendish.

The story starts well and I gradually got to know the two main characters of Valerie and Naomi. Valerie is the expert and leader of the group, Naomi is the biologist who is tasked with growing the food in her lab and then on their new home.

With any group, no matter how small in size, there is going to be some questions asked. There will be one who wants to take the lead and make decisions, there will one who blindly follows, one that sits on the fence and one that asks questions and these roles are soon realised as the story unfolds. This brings mistrust and threatens plans and adds a thriller style to the story. The dynamics between the women is really interesting and I liked how the author wove it well into the story.

With the current climate in the world, this is going to be a book that many may shy away from. There are mentions of disease and climate change and these are so relevant at the moment as we look at unprecedented changes. But I have to say I really enjoyed this book, it does have a little politics, there is some science but as I mentioned earlier this for me was a story about how the roles of five women change over a period of time. There were also some shocks along the way that added tension to the story.

It was a story that I could have easily read in one sitting. I found it to be quite addictive as I became more aware of little things creeping in to cause uncertainty. I really enjoyed this and it is a story that is quite easy to read and therefore would suit a wider audience that may not necessarily look at this type of book or genre as being part of there usual reading. I enjoyed it a lot and I would definitely recommend it.

Laura Lam is the author of several science fiction books, including Radio 2 Book Club selection False Hearts. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in anthologies such as Nasty Women, Solaris Rising 3, Cranky Ladies of History, Scotland in Space, and more.
Originally from California, she now lives in Scotland with her husband, and
teaches Creative Writing at Edinburgh Napier University.

Follow Laura on Twitter

Order your copy today from Amazon UK

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The Lost Child by Emily Gunnis @EmilyGunnis @annecater #RandomThingsTours #headlinepg #familysecrets #BookReview

I am delighted to share my review for The Lost Child by Emily Gunnis as part of the Blog Tour. My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for my Tour spot and also for my copy of this fabulous book.

Let me show you what it is about…

From the author of the runaway bestseller The Girl in the Letter comes a heartwrenching, twisting novel of betrayal, tragedy and a shocking family secret buried for decades.

1960. Thirteen-year-old Rebecca lives in fear of her father’s temper. As a storm batters Seaview Cottage one night, she hears a visitor at the door and a violent argument ensues. By the time the police arrive, Rebecca’s parents are dead and the visitor has fled. No one believes Rebecca heard a stranger downstairs…

2014. Iris, a journalist, is sent to cover the story of a new mother on the run with her desperately ill baby. But fatefully the trail leads to the childhood home of Iris’s own mother, Rebecca…Seaview Cottage.

As Iris races to unravel what happened the night Rebecca’s parents were killed, it’s time for Seaview Cottage to give up its secrets.

Purchase Link – Amazon UK

Well what a hear-wrenching read this book was as I was taken into the lives of the female characters in this tale. This story is told across different time-lines and from a slower start it gradually builds up momentum.

I think the slower start to this story was ideal for gradually getting to know the characters in the story, by doing this, the author made me care and wan to know more about them. The main characters have a link that is not fully realised until a lot later in the book.

There are various conditions that are dealt with in this story and I do think the author has dealt with them well. These conditions are psychological ones and the author has used them to show how it is not only to be affected by them but also with them.

The story has mystery and intrigue wrapped throughout and it had me hooked as I was gradually shown how the various threads would be drawn together and the links were to be connected. Family secrets are unearthed as the full scale of past events finally see the light of day.

This is an emotional read as the author did a wonderful job of creating characters I cared about, there were heartbreaking revelations and secrets that added an air of suspense. A wonderfully written story that would be ideal for fans who like stories with different timelines and delve into families and their hidden secrets. Thoroughly enjoyable read and one that I would definitely recommend.

’ve wanted to be an author since my mum, Penny Vincenzi, got her first book deal when I was 13. We’d spend hours walking and talking about the worlds her characters inhabited and unpicking any plot dead ends she’d found herself in. I absolutely loved it – this is what I wanted to do!

Fast forward 30 years and I’ve discovered it’s a great deal harder than my mother made it look! But still, here I am.

After graduating I wrote scripts and had two episodes of BBC Doctors commissioned but didn’t like all the input from Script Editors and Producers. So, while I worked in various PA jobs I decided to go for it and just kept learning as much as I could until I sold my debut novel, The Girl in the Letter, which has sold nearly half a million copies worldwide and been translated into 17 languages! 

My second novel, The Lost Child, is out now in Kindle and Paperback and I would love to hear what you think via my website http://www.emilygunnis.com!

I live in Sussex with my husband Steve and our two beautiful, crazy, girls, Grace and Eleanor. 

If you’d like to get in touch please also try me at Twitter @EmilyGunnis, Instagram @emilygunnis and Facebook @emilygunnisauthor.

I love hearing from my readers and I’d love to know what you think of The Girl in the Letter and The Lost Child, so please get in touch.

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Mexico Street by Simone Buchholz @ohneklippo @annecater #RandomThingsTours @OrendaBooks #Crime #Bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Mexico Street by Simone Buchholz. My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my e-copy of the book.

Let me show you what it’s all about…

Hamburg state prosecutor Chastity Riley investigates a series
of arson attacks on cars across the city, which leads her to a
startling and life-threatening discovery involving criminal gangs
and a very illicit love story…


Night after night, cars are set alight across the German city
of Hamburg, with no obvious pattern, no explanation and no
suspect.


Until, one night, on Mexico Street, a ghetto of high-rise blocks in
the north of the city, a Fiat is torched. Only this car isn’t empty.
The body of Nouri Saroukhan – prodigal son of the Bremen clan –
is soon discovered, and the case becomes a homicide.


Public prosecutor Chastity Riley is handed the investigation,
which takes her deep into a criminal underground that snakes
beneath the whole of Germany. And as details of Nouri’s
background, including an illicit relationship with the mysterious
Aliza, emerge, it becomes clear that these are not random
attacks, and there are more on the cards…

I have read the first book in the Chas Riley series and they do work well as standalone, but obviously better if read in order to get a proper understanding of Chas.

In Mexico Street the synopsis does a great job of setting the reader up for what is to come. The author has quite a unique style and so does her main protagonist Chas Riley.

Chas is a no holds barred type of character, she is a tough cookie who tends to say what she wants, do what she wants and is in some respects a bit of a closed book when it comes to revealing things about herself.

The case of a body found in a burned out car takes Chas and her team into an area where there is a community that is country-less, refugees who cannot remain in their own country and are not allowed to settle. They are not trusting of the law, of outsiders and of strangers. They have there own ways of doing things and this makes it very difficult to gain the answers Chas needs.

The author weaves a tale that flits back and forth in time giving a backstory to the characters. These are gradually brought up to date and gives the reader the chance to get to know not only the character but also the what matters to them. She also changes perspectives as the story progresses, you get a view from Chas, the investigation as well as from a character. These are well worked to give a good depth to the story.

The story is a mix of the investigation and also from the the dead characters life to the point of death and because of this there are certain things that are not completely finalised. It is that the investigation has been solved but not all the questions are answered, but they are alluded to. Leaves the reader with something to think about.

This is an investigative story that has a different style to it giving it a unique feel. It is detailed and has more than one story-line that are gradually drawn together until they reach a point where they meet. Mexico Street is a crime and investigation read that I would recommend.

I would also like to add that the translation is brilliant.

Simone Buchholz was born in Hanau in 1972. At university, she studied
Philosophy and Literature, worked as a waitress and a columnist, and
trained to be a journalist at the prestigious Henri-Nannen-School in
Hamburg. In 2016, Simone Buchholz was awarded the Crime Cologne Award
as well as runner-up in the German Crime Fiction Prize for Blue Night,
which was number one on the KrimiZEIT Best of Crime List for months. She
lives in Sankt Pauli, in the heart of Hamburg, with her husband and son.

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Deep Dark Night by Steph Broadribb @crimethrillgirl @annecater @OrendaBooks #randomthingstours #orendabooks #deepdarknight #thriller #BookReview

I am delighted to share my review for Deep Dark Night by Steph Broadribb. I have brought the previous books in this series and my plan had been to read them prior to reading this latest one… I really shouldn’t plan because they never go…well…according to plan!!!

My thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for my spot on the Blog Tour and for also arranging an e-copy of this book so I can share my honest opinion about it.

Let me show you what it is all about…

A city in darkness. A building in lockdown. A score that can only be settled in blood…

Working off the books for FBI Special Agent Alex Monroe, Florida bounty-hunter Lori Anderson and her partner, JT, head to Chicago. Their mission: to entrap the head of the Cabressa crime family. The bait: a priceless chess set that Cabressa is determined to add to his collection.

An exclusive high-stakes poker game is arranged in the penthouse suite of one of the city’s tallest buildings, with Lori holding the cards in an agreed arrangement to hand over the pieces. But, as night falls and the game plays out, stakes rise and tempers flare.

When a power failure plunges the city into darkness, the building goes into lockdown. But this isn’t an ordinary blackout, and the men around the poker table aren’t all who they say they are. Hostages are taken, old scores resurface and the players start to die.

And that’s just the beginning…

So as this is the first book I have read by this author what did I think? Well before I was even a quarter of the way through I thought “This is such a good book” and then followed by another thought… “Why haven’t I read anything by this author before!”

Deep Dark Night is part of a series and I can honestly say it worked really well as a stand-alone. It also left me wishing I had read these in order because even though there was enough details about past stories it also left me wanting to know more about the two main protagonists.

So the main characters are Lori and JT, they are caught up with FBI Agent Monroe and are involved in trying to catch a Chicago crime boss handling stolen goods. Now I know I am not the only reader who immediately gets suspicious when those three letters, FBI, appear in books and this also goes for Lori and JT.

Now the synopsis for this book gives a good amount of details as to what I was going to expect, but the book itself far surpassed what the synopsis hinted at. This book was full on high pace from start to finish, this was ideal for injecting a sense of urgency to the main plot. It also added drama and suspense aplenty.

I really liked how the author had laid out this story. Not only quick sharp and to the point chapters, but also alternating perspectives between Lori and JT. It was a good way of seeing different opinions and also for the odd personal moment as they thought about home and family. If you have read the books you will know what I am referring to.

This is without doubt a cracking read that I absolutely loved, once I started I was unable to put it down. Ideal for readers who like fast paced, action packed reads and crime based mysteries. This is a book I would definitely recommend.

Steph Broadribb was born in Birmingham and grew up in Buckinghamshire. Most of her working life has been spent between the UK and USA. As her alter ego – Crime Thriller Girl – she indulges her love of all things crime fiction by blogging at crimethrillergirl.com, where she interviews authors and reviews the latest releases. Steph is an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University London, and she trained as a bounty hunter in California. She lives in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses, cows and chickens. Her debut thriller, Deep Down Dead, was shortlisted for the Dead Good Reader Awards in two categories, and hit number one on the UK and AU kindle charts.


My Little Eye, her first novel under her pseudonym Stephanie Marland was published by Trapeze Books in April 2018.
Follow Steph on Twitter @CrimeThrillGirl and on Facebook facebook.com/CrimeThrillerGirl or visit her website: crimerthrillergirl.com

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Death Unleashed by Steve McHugh @StevejMchugh @annecater #randomthingstours #fantasy #BookReview

I am delighted to be sharing my review for Death Unleashed by the fabulous Steve McHugh. I think I may have just read my favourite book by this author… yet.

My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for my spot on the Blog Tour and also a huge thank you to Steve for sending me a sighned copy of his latest book.

Let me show you what it is all about…

A deadly venom. A looming rebellion. A vicious siege. And the clock is ticking.

For sorcerer Nate Garrett, the stakes have risen. If Asgard falls, he may lose much more than his home—he may lose the thing dearest to him. To stand a fighting chance against Avalon, he must be ready to go to war. But when his best friend and father are poisoned, Nate must race against the clock in a desperate quest to find a cure.

Layla Cassidy is tasked with gaining the aid of the Valkyrie in Valhalla, but once there, she finds herself involved in another rebellion and must pick a side.

Meanwhile, Mordred finds himself on a hunt for Excalibur, a weapon of incredible power that would aid the rebellion in their fight against Arthur and his allies. But to retrieve it, Mordred must face uncomfortable truths about himself.

War looms over the rebellion, and the battle for Asgard is at hand. Time is running out as Avalon’s forces threaten total destruction. But Nate can’t be in two places at once. Can he find the cure, and can he, Layla, and Mordred save the realms before it’s too late?

WOW! What an amazing read, I have been a fan of this authors books and I first came across his writing with the first book in The Avalon Chronicles when I read A Glimmer of Hope. Death Unleashed is the latest book in The Rebellion Chronicles and continues on from Sorcery Reborn. If you are a fan of fantasy books and have not yet come across this author then shame on you!

The synopsis mentions Avalon, Mordred, Excaliber and Asgard, this is only the tip of the iceberg for all the other names from legend that are mentioned.

Death Unleashed continues a few months after the events of Sourcery Reborn. The ongoing battle against Arthur are more intense and friends and family of the main characters are threatened. Things are getting very close to home as the battles become more and more personal. Allies are being sought out to help bolster the armies fighting Arthur. Enter the Valkyries… they bring a great addition to the story line!

The story lines for this book are focused on three of the main characters, Nate, Layla and Mordred. They each have their own thread but they are linked to the overall bigger picture. It was great to meet Mordred and get to know him, and what a tale the author has woven for this character.

As Arthur increases the brutality of his attacks he also increases the levels of deviousness. He is such a good baddie and I love to hate him and his methods, but at the same time I marvel at his ingenuity. I realise that I am actually referring to these characters as real people and this is all down the amazing writing ability of this author.

The author has taken various characters from legend, mythology and folklore from different cultures and woven them together brilliantly. While at first glance you would not necessarily link werecats, knights of the round table and gods of ancient times together on the same page, the author does, has and he makes it work, and he seems to do it effortlessly. He mixes characters from the past and places them in a modern day setting. I have to say that having a character of legend wandering around with a sword while humming the theme tune to a video game made me smirk.

The story took me right into the battles, the rescues and the heartbreak that comes when conflict on such a large scale occurs. There is so much intrigue as I was catapulted into the story. It is a fantasy story and series that is epic, it is huge and it is bloody brilliant.

The Epilogue had my brain jumping up and down with excitement as I discovered where the author is going next! OMG I cannot wait for the next one!

If you are a fan of fantasy that combines, folklore, legend, mythology and slams them into a modern setting then you need to get this book, hell get the series. A brilliantly woven, action read that is just awesome and one I would highly recommend.

Steve’s been writing from an early age, his first completed story was done in an English lesson. Unfortunately, after the teacher read it, he had to have a chat with the head of the year about the violent content and bad language. The follow up ‘One boy and his frog’ was less concerning to his teachers and got him an A. It wasn’t for another decade that he would start work on a full length novel, the result of which is Crimes Against Magic. He was born in a small village called Mexborough, South Yorkshire, but now lives with his wife and three young daughters in Southampton.

Follow Steve on TwitterWebsite

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Are You Watching by Vincent Ralph @VincentRalph1 @PenguinUkBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #AreYouWatchingMagpieMan #BookReview

I am delighted to share my review for Are You Watching by Vincent Ralph. My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my e-copy of this book.

Let me show you what it is all about…

A page-turning new YA thriller for the social media age, perfect for fans of A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder and One Of Us Is Lying.

Ten years ago, Jess’s mother was murdered by the Magpie Man.
She was the first of his victims but not the last.


Now Jess is the star of a YouTube reality series and she’s using it to catch the
killer once and for all.
The whole world is watching her every move.


And so is the Magpie Man.

This is a very topical read as people spend more and more time on social media. Sharing various aspects of their lives is the norm. But can you use it for your own benefit?

Jess has a chance to use a reality internet show to get more exposure as she tries to gain interest in the death of her mother. The killer was never caught and is known as The Magpie Man. She uses this show as a platform to garner interest in the hope that the killer can finally be caught.

When I first started this book I was a little shocked at the amount of chapters, over a hundred of them. When I started reading I found the chapters to be quick to the point and they flowed into each other really well. They also suited the story, for me it reminded me how quickly social media feeds are quickly updated.

The story starts well and then as viewers on social media start to gain interest there are different sides to the responses. Not all the responses are gone into, instead just key moments are picked out. It would have been very easy to be bogged down and waylaid but instead the flow is kept as the story pans out.

We all know that social media has its good as well as bad sides. But then the threat is elevated as things start to get close, and with this the tension of the story starts to increase.

The story was well laid out and had me gripped as I followed Jess on the hunt for the killer of her mother. This is a story that is aimed at YA readers and it also works very well for adult readers as well.

I enjoyed the tension as I got further and further in the story. Discovering the impact on not only Jess but also her Dad. There are some really poignant moments in the story and it had me eagerly turning the pages.

While this book has a YA target audience, specifically 12-17 years old, I also thoroughly enjoyed it. A mix of thriller, mystery and crime it had me hooked and I would definitely recommend it.

Vincent Ralph has been writing in one form or another since his teens and
always dreamed of being a novelist. He owes his love of books to his mother, who encouraged his imagination from an early age and made sure there were new stories to read.


Vincent has lived in London, Cornwall and Chester but he now lives in his home county of Kent with his wife, son and two cats.

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A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #OrendaBooks #BookReview

I am delighted to share my review for A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone. My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours and Orenda Books for my spot on the Blog Tour and my e-copy of this terrrific book.

Let me show you what it is all about…

After an unexpected death, three generations of women take over the family funeral-home and PI businesses in the first book of a brilliant, page-turning and darkly funny new series


The Skelfs are a well-known Edinburgh family, proprietors of a long-established funeral-home business, and private investigators. When patriarch Jim dies, it’s left to his wife Dorothy, daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah to take charge of both businesses, kicking off an unexpected series of events.

Dorothy discovers mysterious payments to another women, suggesting that Jim wasn’t the husband she thought he was. Hannah’s best friend Mel has vanished from university, and the simple adultery case that Jenny takes on leads to something stranger and far darker than any of them could have imagined.

As the women struggle to come to terms with their grief, and the demands of the business threaten to overwhelm them, secrets from the past emerge, which change everything… It’s a compelling and tense thriller and a darkly funny, warm portrait of a family in turmoil.

The really like the simplicity of this cover and as I again look at it after reading the book it is also so appropriate. The synopsis does a great job of setting the basics up for this story. This is the first in a new series by Doug Johnstone and I have to say I cannot wait to see what these feisty Sklef women get up to in further books.

This is a story that is about coming to terms with the death of a loved one who left one or two skeletons lurking behind him. Jim’s death leaves not only a big hole in the lives of his family, it also leaves a hole in the two businesses. One is a funeral directors the other is a private Investigation business.

Taking over two businesses throws up a few surprises, in fact surprise is something that each of the three Skelf women, in this story, have got to deal with. Some hit closer to home than others. In some respects this book is like reading interconnected stories, that have an individual feel at times but also are linked.

The individual stories gradually make themselves known and after a slower start I suddenly found myself finding my feet. There were a few characters to get my head around, but gradually I did and I was able to see the story rather than trying to remember who was who.

Dealing with grief at the same time as discovering secrets and trying to keep business running is a tall order. This is something the Skelf ‘s seem to take in their stride. These are strong women, who do have moments of doubt but continue on.

This is a really good read that has more than a few surprises tucked in the pages, very cleverly worked and quite a lot of facts scattered throughout that added some wonderful reading extras.

If you are a reader who likes crime and mystery reads then this will be right up your street, I am really looking forward to what happens next and what the author can weave into his next book. A Dark Matter gets a definitely recommended from me.

Doug Johnstone is the author of ten novels, most recently Breakers (2018), which has been shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. Several of his books have been bestsellers and award winners, and his work has been praised by the likes of Val McDermid, Irvine Welsh and Ian Rankin. He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions – including a funeral home – and has been an arts journalist for twenty years. Doug is a songwriter and musician with five albums and three EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He’s also playermanager of the Scotland Writers Football Club. He lives in Edinburgh.

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Gone by Leona Deakin @LeonaDeakin1 @annecater #RandomThingsTours #Bookreview

I am so delighted to be sharing my thoughts on this Gone by Leona Deakin, this was a fabulous psychological thriller that I thoroughly enjoyed. Many thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for my spot on the Blog Tour and also for organising my review copy.

Let me show you what Gone is all about…

Four strangers are missing. Left at their last-known locations are birthday cards that read:

YOUR GIFT IS THE GAME.
DARE TO PLAY?

The police aren’t worried – it’s just a game. But the families are frantic. As psychologist and private detective Dr Augusta Bloom delves into the lives of the missing people, she finds something that binds them all.

And that something makes them very dangerous indeed.

As more disappearances are reported and new birthday cards uncovered, Dr Bloom races to unravel the mystery and find the missing people.

But what if, this time, they are the ones she should fear?

Well there are two words that really sum this book up “psychological thriller”! If you are a fan of crime fiction reads that have a strong psychological aspect, then you are going to get on really well with this book. I read it in one sitting and it had me hooked.

The tag lines for this story are intriguing to say the least and the story opens in quite a brutal and also unsettling way. The main character is Dr Augusta Bloom and her work within the field of psychology.

It did take me a few chapters to get into as I got used to the characters, there were a few to get my head around. Then as I started to get a grip with who was who, I was able to enjoy the story more. I say story, but actually there are two stories, they seem totally unconnected. One is of a young girl that Bloom is helping, the other is the main focus of the story and is that of the game of dare. The participants of the game had gone missing, but they had gone missing on their own choice. A missing person case with a big twist if you like.

The game is eerily creepy and held a good amount of intrigue and to a certain extent some excitement. The people invited to play the game just walk away from their lives with no explanation. It is Bloom and her colleague Jameson an ex secret service man, who start to fit the pieces of this puzzle together.

The author incorporates a good amount of psychological explanation into the story and for the most part it is part of the story, I did occasionally feel a little too much was given, but at the same time it was still important to be there, so for me it hit the right balance with the odd wobble.

As the story progressed the tension and intrigue definitely increased and I was desperate to discover where the story would lead. There were some unsettling revelations regarding social media games and also big brother knowing and seeing all, this just added to the thrill of the story.

For the most part, I had no idea about who could be the mastermind, then suddenly I had one of those epiphany moments. From that point on I started to doubt myself, and then I was along for the ride. Working out the who, didn’t spoil the story at all.Instead I got to discover all the why’s and this held some interesting and clever twists.

This was a really good read, I liked the inclusion of various psychological aspects and also the unusual crime fighting duo. I would like to think there will be another book featuring Boom and Jameson. If you like a twisted and psychological based crime thriller then you really want to have a look at this book. it is one I would definitely recommend.

Leona draws inspiration for her writing from her own experiences having started her career as a psychologist with the West Yorkshire Police and her successful work in psychology since. She is now an occupational psychologist and lives with her family in Leeds.

This is her debut thriller.

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