Monday, 19 March 2018

Review ~ With Our Blessing by Jo Spain

It's true what they say . . . revenge is sweet.

The story opens in 1975 with a baby, minutes old, is forcibly removed from it's devastated mother which causes trauma for the mother from that moment and causes a ripple effect down through the years with many more young girls which go unnoticed.

Fast forward 35 years to 2010 where the body of an elderly woman is found in a Dublin public park in the depths of winter.  Her murder scene is a resemblence to the crucifixition of Jesus Christ.

Detective Inspector Tom Reynolds is the lead detective working the case along with his team. He's convinced the murder is linked to historical events that took place in the notorious Magdalene Laundries.  Reynolds and his team follow the trail to an isolated convent in the Irish countryside. But once inside, it becomes disturbingly clear that the killer is amongst them and is determined to exact further vengeance for the sins of the past.

I absolutely LOVED With Our Blessing, I was gripped right from the start, it is tense, shocking and completely addictive.  I didn't know who to trust and I'd so many suspects as to who the killer was. Jo has written about the Magdalene Laundries which were real here in Ireland for years run by the nuns for young girls who were brought to these places when they were pregnant outside of wedlock and believe me the stories I've heard growing up about these homes were barbaric and true.  I also went to both Primary & Secondary School's in Dublin run by the nuns and you were terrified of stepping out of line as you didn't want to feel or hear the wrath from them but Jo has managed to really put the barbaric events into words but has handled it all with great sensitivity.

This is Jo Spain's debut novel and it was fantastic, it was so well written and researched, I couldn't believe this was a debut.  There are another 3 books as part of the DI Tom Reynolds series and I'm really looking forward to reading the next 2 installments which are Beneath The Surface and Sleeping Beauties before the release of the fourth book titled The Darkest Place which is due for release in 2018.


With Our Blessing is available in all good bookshops, libraries and on Kindle where it is currently £0.99 at the time of publication of this review.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ Hold My Hand by M.J. Ford

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for Hold My Hand by M.J. Ford where I welcome M.J. to my blog where he has kindly provided me with an extract of his debut novel. I was thrilled to be asked by Sabah Khan from Avon Books to take part along with some other fab book bloggers. You can find out who else is taking part in this fabulous Blog Tour at the end of this extract so without further ado, here it is:

The sign for the Hanover Homes development loomed large over the hedgerows at the side of the B3109. The space promised 240 units, ‘built to house the local community’, whatever that was supposed to mean, here in the middle of nowhere. The road was spattered with mud from the procession of vehicles using the site, and when Jo turned into the entrance, her small car rocked and bounced over the hard ruts in the ground. It hadn’t rained for weeks, and the weather forecasters were saying it was already the driest summer on record. 

She passed a couple of temporary cabins, several stacks of scaffold and a concrete truck. A squad car was parked up alongside her boss Rob Bridges’ scarlet Volvo, along with a battered Discovery, a Toyota and a police-issue Vauxhall. DCI Bridges, in plain clothes, was talking to a woman in a hard hat, making notes in his book. 

Jo killed the engine and climbed out. 

‘Can I see?’ she said straight away.

‘Who’s this?’ said an older, silver-haired man whose grey pallor suggested he was at least one heart attack down. His suit looked thick, maybe woollen, and completely wrong for July. 

Jo frowned; there was something familiar about him.

‘Detective Jo Masters, meet Harry Ferman,’ said Bridges. ‘There’s a DS from Thames Valley round the back already.’

The older man held out a massive, paw-like hand, and Jo shook it.

‘Follow me,’ he said. His teeth seemed a little too big for his mouth, and she guessed they were dentures. 

As he led her under the secondary perimeter police tape and around a bend between overgrown hedges, Jo wondered who he was. He had police written all over him, but he had to be at least sixty. 

A substantial Georgian house came into view at the end of the drive. Though the stone was still pale in places, a lot of it was stained by sooty streaks, darker above the paneless window arches. The roof was a mess of exposed joists, many collapsed already. A uniformed officer took their details at a second line of tape by the side of the house and gestured them through.

‘Who found the remains?’ said Jo.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ 29 Seconds by TM Logan

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for 29 Seconds by T.M. Logan where I welcome T.M. to my blog where she has kindly provided me with an extract of his new novel. I was thrilled to be asked by Emily Burns from Bonnier Zaffre, now of BrandHive to take part along with some other fab book bloggers. You can find out who else is taking part in this fabulous Blog Tour at the end of this piece so without further ado, here it is:

The BMW swung through a series of turns and she knew they were leaving the campus. Sarah imagined the possibilities, her breath hot inside the bag. There still wasn’t enough air, but in this lying position she was able to shift her head on the seat, creating a tiny gap at her neck to allow more air through. She shivered involuntarily, a violent spasm that went through her whole body. The hand pushed down a little heavier on the top of her arm, pinning her in place on the BMW’s back seat.

Think. What about her dad? How long would it be before he raised the alarm when she didn’t come home? Another thought pierced her like a blade: what if these men were going to take Grace and Harry, too? In her head, she said a silent prayer: Please let this be about me, not about my children. Please let them be safe with my dad. The thought of Grace and Harry and her dad sitting around the kitchen table made her eyes fill with tears. She swallowed hard and fought them back.

This is no time for crying. Not now. 


She tried to count in her head, and guess how quickly the car was travelling. Were they on a fast road, a dual carriageway? No. Lots of traffic lights, twists and turns which suggested they were heading further into the city, rather than away. But the journey seemed to be taking forever. She began counting as best she could, one to sixty, then starting again. Not too fast. Count the minutes. The act of counting kept her mind off other possibilities, helped her stay calm.

She reached what she thought was fourteen minutes, near enough.

The car stopped.

Then the hand was on her arm again and she was pulled sideways, edging along the car seat and stepping carefully down onto hard ground, smelling diesel and rain and cold night air. Men talking in low voices, muffled through the hood. Car doors slamming. The grip on her upper arm loosened slightly. She was still hooded, but her hands were free and she had a sudden urge to rip the hood off and just make a run for it, look for a gap between these men and sprint through it, as fast as she could. She thanked the instinct that had made her wear flat shoes this morning. She could run in these shoes. She used to run for her school, and she had been good, too. 100 metres, 200 metres, 4 x 400 metres relay. It might be her last chance – her only chance. Instinctively, she knew that if it came it would only be a second or two and she would have to be ready to react without hesitation.

More voices, but she couldn’t make out what they were saying. The smell of cigarette smoke. The metallic chuck of the BMW’s doors being central-locked.

The hand came away from her arm.


She ran.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Review ~ Friend Request by Laura Marshall

Maria wants to be friends.  But Maria is dead.

Louise did a very bad thing back in 1989 when she was in school to an unliked girl named Maria Weston which sadly resulted in her missing, presumed dead. Fast forward to 2016 where Louise lives everyday with the guilt and regret over what happened all those years ago Louise Williams receives a message from someone left long in the past she feels sick.

"Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook".

Maria Weston has been missing for over twenty years. She was last seen the night of a school leavers' party, and the world believes her to be dead. Particularly Louise, who has lived her adult life knowing herself responsible for Maria's disappearance. But now Maria is back and wants all the students that were in that year of 1989 to have a school reunion so when other past students receive the invite to the reunion, they think that maybe Maria is somehow alive, or is she??

Well, this was absolutely brilliant, I really loved it and couldn't turn the pages fast enough.  We all know how we've benefited from social media over the years with the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and dating apps but also the dangers that lurk of these platforms too as there's been many a story of people been stalked, harassed and even lives have been taken due to suicide.  This book is only too real of what could possibly happen and Laura researched this really well.  I didn't know who to trust or what to believe and I thought I'd had it worked out but was shocked as I got to the part where all was revealed.  When I finished this I did find myself going onto Facebook to make sure my privacy settings where still set to the way I wanted as you'd never know who would try and contact you, even from beyond the grave!!


Friend Request is available in all good bookshops, libraries and on Kindle and is currently £1.99 at the time of publication of this review.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ A House Full of Secrets by Zoë Miller

Hi Everyone,

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for A House Full of Secrets by Zoë  Miller where I welcome Zoë to my blog where she has kindly provided me with a piece on 5 Things About Writing A Novel. I was thrilled to be asked by Joanna Smyth from Hachette Ireland to take part along with some other fab book bloggers. You can find out who else is taking part in this fabulous Blog Tour at the end of this piece so without further ado, here it is:


I’d like to say a big thank you to Celeste, for hosting me on her wonderful blog, Celeste Loves Books, and I’m delighted to be featured here today. This post on the blog tour for A House Full of Secrets is about some of the things I’ve learned from writing novels. I hope you enjoy, Zoë x
The bookshelves of Ireland are glutted with ‘How-To’ books on novel writing. The internet is another huge resource where you can find a multitude of articles laying down various rules and regulations, tips and techniques. Then when you have suitably frazzled your brain and overloaded your critical faculties on a million and one contradictory ways to write that novel, you come across the much feted advice of W. Somerset Maugham – ‘There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately no-one knows what they are.’  But rules and techniques aside, and being very much aware that I’m on a permanent learning curve in this wonderful job, here are some things I have gleaned over the years about writing novels:
  1. Advice and ‘How to’ books can give you a starting point, provide signposts and directions, and illuminate some of the solitary journey you are about to undertake. They can also be a helpful refresher at any time. But there comes the moment when you have to take that leap into space, stop thinking about writing, and just write. There is no magic formula or golden typewriter. No waiting for permission. You have to begin that scary journey across the blank page all by yourself, putting down one word after another.

  1. The first draft is ALWAYS tough, whether it’s Book 1 or Book 10 and you can expect your initial attempts to be a pale reflection of what you’re hoping to achieve. I find it a help to think of Shannon Hale’s quote; 'I'm writing a first draft and reminding myself that I'm simply shovelling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.'

  1. Regardless of writing competence or talent, self-belief is the biggest attitude you need in your skill set for slogging it through the 100k words required for the average novel. Writing a novel is an endurance sport akin to a marathon race, and you have to believe you can do this. Self-belief will propel you into action, get you past hitting a wall at the 30k mark, enable you to keep up the pace at 60k words, and help you stagger, exhausted but exhilarated, to the finish line. Fake it if you must, otherwise self-doubt will creep in, and that is the biggest enemy of work in progress.

  1. If you have to wait until you feel a bolt of inspiration striking you before you attempt your daily word count, forget it. Story ideas and plot twists can spark at odd moments and draw you to the page, but adding to your word count takes grit, discipline and perseverance. According to Ernest Hemmingway, ‘Sometimes it (writing) comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it's like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.’ After nine published novels, I can personally vouch for that nugget of wisdom. The good news is that the everyday act of moving your fingertips across the keyboard can ease you into the zone and induce some kind of creative alchemy. That’s when the magic happens and inspiration whispers gently in your ear.    

  1. Sometimes life can imitate fiction. You create a story, and months later you meet a person in real life who could have walked straight out of your novel. You set up a particular drama or conflict, and in the fullness of time, something similar happens to your nearest and dearest. There are also times when your novel has been safely consigned to the printers only for you to realise that the drama you have poured across the page mirrors an incident in the life of your friends or family. It has happened to me, and I’ve heard other writers also speak of this phenomenon. But good stories with relatable characters address the hopes and fears that make up our lives, so writers are bound to hit on themes and plots that are out there in the world. I’ve had to learn to ignore any whispers of similarities that murmur in my ear and just get the job done and allow the story to unfold as it will, otherwise I’d never write another word.

Last but by no means least, nine books in, writing and using my creativity is my dream job that I feel privileged to enjoy.

© 2018 Zoë Miller

Monday, 12 February 2018

BLOG TOUR ~ The Owl Always Hunts At Night by Samuel Bjork

With thanks to Thomas Hill and Transworld books, I received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review.......

Detective Holger Munch and Detective Mia Kruger are back just over 6 months from their previous case in Travelling Alone where there's been another murder where a  a young woman is found dead. The scene they find is unexpected. The body is posed and the scene is challenging set and there is almost no forensic evidence to be found.

Due to previous and ongoing battles Detective Mia Kruger has been signed off work pending psychological assessment but Munch has less regard for the rules than he should and he is desperate to get Mia back in the office and on the case, Holger Munch offers her an unofficial deal.  But the brilliant Mia is struggling and the team are unable to close the case.  Until a young hacker uncovers something that forces the team to confront the scope of the murderer’s plans and face the possibility that he may already be on the hunt for a second victim.

I couldn't wait to start this after I finished I'm Travelling Alone, I would suggest you read this which is the first in the series to get a feel for the characters and their backgrounds. I didn't like it, I absolutely LOVED it, it was brilliant, tense, chilling and twisting, at times I almost forgot to breath when reading some parts. As I said in my review of I'm Travelling Alone that Munch and Kruger have their own battles and demons that they face and especially Mia faces on a daily basis which continues throughout this book and don't know how she is still in the force with all she's gone through and still going through so I feel a lot of empathy for her. I much preferred this book to the first in the series as it didn't feel that it slowed down at all, it was continuous action with plenty of twists.  I've now got 2 favourite characters with Detective Munch and Detective Kruger and I really can't wait until the next installment in the series, The Boy in The Headlights is released and I'm just hoping that it won't be too long to wait.


The Owl Always Hunts At Night is available from all good bookshops, libraries and on Kindle where it is currently £3.99 at the time of publication of this review.

Friday, 9 February 2018

REVIEW~ I'm Travelling Alone by Samuel Bjork

When a young girl is found hanging from a tree in Oslo with an airline tag around her neck. It reads ‘I'm travelling alone'. 

Police investigator Holger Munch is immediately charged with assembling a special homicide unit. But to complete the team, he must track down his former partner, Mia Krüger, a brilliant but very troubled detective with a lot of problems who sees alcohol and prescription drugs the only way to get through each day and in saying that, Holger Munch has his own troubles too.

With Mia finally tracked down and on board the team, whilst reviewing the file, Mia finds something new in the form of a very thin line carved into the dead girl’s fingernail: the number 1.  She knows that this is only the beginning in a series of girls going missing and to save other children from the same fate, she must find a way to cast aside her own demons and stop this murderer from becoming a serial killer.

Well, I didn't like this, I absolutely LOVED this, it was full of thrills, spills, twist and turns.  Now, I will admit that I read from the start at break neck speed as it was so good but then there were a lot of characters introduced and I wasn't sure what way it was going to go but it all made sense as I turned the last page, but it slowed down a lot in the middle but then picked up again for the final 150 plus pages.  I loved Munch & especially Krüger, I felt empathy for her throughout the book with everything she'd went through.  I had my suspicions and thought I'd worked out who the killer was but I was completely wrong.  I don't want to say much more about this other than get it yourself and see what you think.


I'm Travelling Alone is available in all good bookshops, libraries and on Kindle and is currently £4.99 at the time of publication of this review.