Review ~ Blog Tour ~ The Golden Orphan by Gary Raymond #damppebblesblogtours

Golden Orphans Cover Image

Within the dark heart of an abandoned city, on an island once torn by betrayal and war, lies a terrible secret…

Francis Benthem is a successful artist; he’s created a new life on an island in the sun. He works all night, painting the dreams of his mysterious Russian benefactor, Illy Prostakov. He writes letters to old friends and students back in cold, far away London. But now Francis Benthem is found dead. The funeral is planned and his old friend from art school arrives to finish what Benthem had started. The painting of dreams on a faraway island. But you can also paint nightmares and Illy has secrets of his own that are not ready for the light. Of promises made and broken, betrayal and murder…

The Golden Orphans offers a new twist on the literary thriller.



I would like to thank the author, publisher Parthian Books and blog tour organiser Emma Welton for the ARC in return for an honest review.

The Golden Orphans is a tale of an artist who is fleeing his past and present, arriving on Cyprus to bury a friend.  In fleeing his own demons, he becomes entangled in those of a man haunted by his dreams.

When I started Golden Orphans I wasn’t sure it was or me, yet by the end I loved it. I have read some outstanding thrillers during the last year and what I loved about this one was the feeling of sparseness in the writing. Yet this is deceptive because it is in fact a complex and addictive read. Not layered with tons of twist and turns, you are sucked into the story by a rich and absorbing tale written with superb charactrisation.  A literary thriller with the emphasis being on character and emotion, rather than reams of action. Of course there are twists and turns, this is first and foremost a thriller, but as the air shimmers in the landscape, those twists are much more low key,

My favourite part of the book was the rich variety of characters. From Russian Olagacs, to barmaids and creepy ‘drug dealers’ and many more.  No one is who they initially seem to be and as a result I was forced to evaluate my thoughts as the story progressed, wrong footed by events as they unfurled within the novel.  At the end, I realised I had misjudged them all and I felt haunted by their far from certain fates.

I was left haunted by both the story and the characters and fascinated by the way the writer uses art to try to explore the dreams of a tortured mind.  I have not come across this before and it gave the novel a unique edge.

It is a story with elements of a thriller, mystery and an historical drama. As a reader the way the writer cleverly combined them into a story about murder and betrayal, delivered for me a read of the finest calabre.

It is without doubt a first class literary thriller with a cinematic quality to it, that delivers on every level.

You purchase  The Golden Orphans can be purchased from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Waterstones, Book DepositoryNook and Kobo.

dpbt 2

About the author.

gary raymond author photo

Gary Raymond is a novelist, critic, editor and broadcaster. He is the presenter of BBC Radio Wales’, The Review Show, and is one of the founding editors of Wales Arts Review. He is the author of two novels, The Golden Orphans (Parthian, 2018) and For Those Who Come After (Parthian, 2015). He is a widely published critic and cultural commentator.

You can follow the author on Twitter and Facebook.

The Golden Orphans banner



Review ~ Blog Tour ~ Hitman Sam by Morgen Bailey.

Having been made redundant as a photocopier software designer, Sam Simpson is lured by a cryptic advert. As he learns it is for a trainee hitman, will he be tough enough to see the job through? Even James Bond had to start somewhere and Sam, as his alias Josh Bradley, looks forward to enjoying James’ lifestyle, although soon embroiled in a love triangle, Sam hadn’t expected things to get so complicated so quickly.  
I would like to thank the author and blog tour organiser for the ARC of this novel in return for an honest review.
The premise is that Sam recently made redundant is lured by a mysterious advert into becoming a trainee hitman. Now that might sound farfetched but when you think about it, how does a person become a gun for hire? I certainly have no idea and so this story was an entertaining and often funny read. Another recommendation is that it is short and can be read in one relaxed sitting, maybe with a nice drink and possibly as with me, a ‘I’m not sharing’ grab bag of chocolates. I was looking for something light and yet enjoyable to read and this fitted the requirements with bells on.
The story flows well and there are a great range of entertaining characters, many of whom are not who they seem initially and that kept me on my toes as a reader. Sam himself was suitably entertaining, naive enough to get caught up in a fantasy, James Bond he is not, but he is surprisingly good enough to make you think, he could make a career of this. He is unlucky in love and looking for some excitement in life and I felt myself really wanting him to succeed, even though I hate violence, I wanted him to accomplish the dream of escaping meritocracy.
If I had one issue, I would love to see into Sam’s future. Maybe a second short novella!
If you’re looking for a fun read then I would certainly give this one a go.
You can purchase the novel from Amazon
About the author 
2 Morgen July 2017
Morgen Bailey (Morgen with an E) is an author (of novels, short stories, writing and editing guides), freelance editor (for publishers and indie authors), writing tutor (in person and online), Writers’ Forum magazine ‘Competitive Edge’ columnist, blogger, speaker, and co-founder of Northants Authors. The former Chair of three writing groups, she has judged the H.E. Bates Short Story Competition, RONE, as well as the BBC Radio 2, BeaconLit, and Althorp Literary Festival children’s short story competitions. She also runs her own monthly 100-word competition. 2018 events include talks and workshops at Troubador’s Self Publishing Conference speakers, workshops and panels at Delapre Book Festival, interviewing and workshops at BeaconLit, and NAWG Fest with her ‘Editing your Fiction’ weekend residential course. Morgen can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and many others. Her blog is, and email address

Blog Tour ~Interview with Siren Paul Petrek author of Wolves At Our Door.

Wolves at our Door

The Allies and the Nazis are in a deadly race to develop the ultimate weapon while supersonic V-2 rockets rain down on London. Madeleine Toche and Berthold Hartmann, the German super assassin who taught her to kill, search for the secret factory where Werner von Braun and his Gestapos masters use slave labor to build the weapons as the bodies of the innocent pile up. The Allied ground forces push towards Berlin while the German SS fight savagely for each inch of ground.

Finding the factory hidden beneath Mount Kohnstein, Hartmann contacts his old enemy, Winston Churchill and summons Madeleine to his side. While she moves to bring the mountain down on her enemies, Hartmann leads a daring escape from the dreaded Dora concentration camp to continue his revenge against the monsters who ruined his beloved Germany.

Together with the Russian Nachtlexen, the Night Witches, fearsome female pilots the race tightens as the United States and the Germans successfully carry out an atomic bomb test.

Germany installs an atom bomb in a V-2 pointed towards London, while the US delivers one to a forward base in the Pacific. The fate of the Second World War and the future of mankind hangs in the balance.

I’m delighted to welcome author Siren Petrek to booksaremycwtches today discussing where he likes to write, why he likes being an author and his novel Wolves At Our Door.

1. Where do you get most of your writing done?
I write at the office and at home as time allows. Usually, I’ll get an uninterrupted hour here and there during the week and longer periods on weekends, holidays and evenings. I write in spurts and often do 5,000 words at a time, but more often around a thousand.

2. What is your favourite thing about being an author?
The artistic element is completely different than my ‘day job’ of being a trial attorney. Litigation involves contested proceedings and jury trials, that by nature are adversarial. Writing is insular and personal where I control the emotion and narrative.

3. What is your favourite part of Wolves at our Door? (No spoilers!)
The scene where my protagonist and her mentor are in Germany fighting side by side against the Nazi SS. Madeleine is tasked to blow up the German V-2 rocket factory under Mount Kohnstein while Hartmann to liberate the Dora concentration camp and to lead an armed prisoner attack against the guards.

4. When you’re not writing, what do you do?
I like to cook, travel with family, read and watch movies and shows. I think we’ve seen every police drama on Brtibox and of course Game of Thrones.

5. Why should readers pick up your books?

Most WWII action adventure novels feature male characters and therefore have less appeal to female readers. Mine feature Madeleine Toche, a young French woman thrust into war and the British Special Operations Executive. She is trained and selected to be an assassin operating in France taking the war directly to the enemy. So many women played pivotal roles during the war from Bletchley Park, cryptography and aerial photo interpretation to the female field agents of the SOE.
My novels appeal to readers of all ages and interests. Many of the reviews I’ve read are from readers normally not drawn to novels set in WWII or that have a military aspect to them.
I’ve hundreds of reviews where the readers remark that they couldn’t set the book down. That is the highest praise for me.
I write to entertain and perhaps reassert the need for people to remember the atrocities the Nazis perpetrated. History needn’t be bland and soulless but can be presented in a manner that intrigues and guides readers to learn more about the aspects of a time and place that catch their imaginations.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon

About the author 

Soren Petrek is a practicing criminal trial attorney, admitted to the Minnesota Bar in 1991. Married with two adult children, Soren continues to live and work in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Educated in the U.S., England and France, Soren sat his O-level examinations at the Heathland School in Hounslow, London in 1981. His undergraduate degree in Forestry is from the University of Minnesota, 1986. His law degree is from William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota (1991).

Soren’s novel, Cold Lonely Courage won Fade In Magazine’s 2009 Award for Fiction. Fade In was voted the nation’s favorite movie magazine by the Washington Post and the L.A. Times in 2011 and 2012.

The French edition of Cold Lonely Courage (titled simply, Courage) was published January 2019, by Encre Rouge Editions, distributed by Hachette Livre in 60 countries. Soren’s contemporary novel, Tim will be released along with the rest of the books in the Madeleine Toche series of historical thrillers.

Tuck Magazine has published several of Soren’s poems, some of which have been included in Soren’s book of poetry, A Search for Solid Ground.

You can follow the author on TwitterFacebook and the author ‘s website.

Wolves at our Door Banner3

Review ~ Blog Tour ~ Wilderness by B E Jones


It’s easy to die out there. It’s easy to kill too.

Two weeks, 1,500 miles, three opportunities for her husband to save his own life.
It isn’t about his survival – it’s about hers.
Shattered by the discovery of her husband’s affair, Liv knows they need to leave the chaos of New York to try to save their marriage. Maybe the roadtrip that they’d always planned, exploring America’s national parks, just the two of them, would help heal the wounds.
But what Liv hasn’t told her husband is that she has set him three challenges. Three opportunities to prove he’s really sorry and worthy of her forgiveness.
If he fails? Well, it’s dangerous out there. There are so many ways to die in the wilderness. And if it’s easy to die, then it’s easy to kill too.
If their marriage can’t survive, he can’t either.

dpbt 2


I would like to thank the author, publisher and blog tour organiser for the ARC in return for an honest review.

Having listened to the author take part in a panel last year at the Cardiff Book festival, I was excited to be given the opportunity to review one of her novels. Wilderness is a superb psychological thriller, with a deeply flawed lead character, pitch perfect storyline and tension that oozes off the pages as you read.

There were there reasons why I loved it so much, the story being the main one. From the point it started it read like a dream and given my rather frazzled mind at the moment that was very important.

The story is essentially about Liv whose husband has cheated on her, setting him the challenge of proving his worthiness to not only remain married to her, but stay alive. Now this seems quite straightforward, but the cleverness of the novel is the way B E Jones gives the story layers of detail and it becomes as much a story about Liv’s survival as it does Will’s. More than once the writer fooled me and took the storyline down a different ARC than I was expecting, an utter delight as I then found it impossible to put down.

She created the perfect setting to, from the dry almost alien landscape of the Grand Canyon, to the frantic tempo of New York. The changes in location, gave the novel an edginess and palatable sense of oppression. For example when set in the Grand Canyon, the heat and danger posed by the cliff edges, ramped up the threat to Will’s very survival.

Then there is the Liv herself, not a simple one dimensional women treated badly by her man, for she is so much more than this. Not for her the divorce courts, her mind so seemingly tortured by it own demons  making it almost impossible to simply walk away from Will. She has traits of a psychopath, her past is clouded with clues to her reactions and she is so complex you can’t shift her from your mind, for days after the book comes to an end. So complex that you can’t help but sympathise with her pain, yet paradoxically find her scary and yet utterly fascinating.

I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending this book and giving it a well  deserved five stars.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon UK, Amazon USWaterstones

About the author

photo of Bev

Beverley Jones was born in the Rhondda Valleys, South Wales, and started her ‘life of crime’ as a reporter on The Western Mail before moving into TV news with BBC Wales Today.
She covered all aspects of crime reporting before switching sides as a press officer for South Wales police, dealing with the media in criminal investigations, security operations and emergency planning.
Now a freelance writer she channels these experiences of ‘true crime,’ and the murkier side of human nature, into her dark, psychological thrillers set in and around South Wales.
Wilderness, her sixth crime novel follows the release of Halfway by Little Brown in 2018.
Bev’s previous releases, Where She Went, The Lies You Tell, Make Him Pay and Fear The Dark are also available from Little Brown as e books.

You can follow the author on Twitter, FacebookInstagram and her Website.

Wilderness banner.png

Review ~ Blog Tour ~Bad Mommy Stay Mommy by Elizabeth Horan

Bad Mommy Stay Mommy Cover

Elisabeth Horan was in the grip of postpartum depression after the birth of her second son, ‘red and writhing a salamander underfoot’. In this collection, Elisabeth finds the courage to survive. Uplifting, guttural: Horan leaves her reader roaring for more.


Many thanks to the author, publisher and blog tour organiser Anne Cater for the ARC in return for an honest review.

I’m the first to admit I don’t always ‘get’ poetry, but I know what I love and that’s when I make a connection with a poem or collection and I found Bad Mommy, Stay Mommy to be both accessible, powerful and moving.

There is a move in social media and public organisations to bring the issues around mental health out into the public domain and to remove the stigma endured by those that suffer from this largely invisible illness.  If we are honest many of us have suffered in some degree or other, but we don’t feel able to verbalise it. Elizabethan Horan can and does so with great passion and voice which is clear and honest. Its that, which makes this collection so moving and powerful.  She does not sugar coat the pain endured by mothers who have suffered from the debilitating and painful condition postpartum depression, she gives it a voice and speaks for many, not just for herself. It makes for difficult reading on times, but the rewards are endless. In the first poem of the collection, My Self, Horan talks for me about how people don’t really know her or anyone left feeling isolated by this illness, how maybe during this period of depression people felt the need to protect their children from her. In the final line of the poem, she delivers one of the most powerful pieces of poetry I have read in some time;

But what you forget is that I am your sister, your husband, your mother, your lover. I am you in a mixed acrylic on a Pollack canvas.

Then in It’s My Mind Which Does This- she shows that her poetry gives a voice to those chronically debilitating feelings that plague those suffering from any form of depression, that it is all our own fault, that we in some way create our own misery!

It is my fault this whine, this

Off-key music in

My mind? 

Bad Mommy Stay Mommy is designed to give a voice to those mothers left silenced and shamed by the depression that crushes them after the birth of their child and we should all read it, to break that cycle of misunderstanding and give them a voice.  Elizabeth Horan has produced a powerful and moving collection of poems that speak to us all, for even if we have not had children, we can all in some way learn from her words to open up and give a voice to those who lives are haunted by postpartum depression.

You can purchase this collection of Poetry from Amazon

About the author

Elisabeth Horan Author Picture

Elisabeth Horan is an imperfect creature advocating for animals, children and those suffering alone and in pain – especially those ostracized by disability and mental illness. Elisabeth is honored to serve as Poetry Editor at Anti-Heroin Chic Magazine, and is Co-Owner of Animal Heart Press. She recently earned her MFA from Lindenwood University and received a 2018 Best of the Net Nomination from Midnight Lane Boutique, and a 2018 Pushcart Prize Nomination from Cease Cows.
Elisabeth lives in rural Vermont with her husband and two young sons. When not being poet, she works as a secretary and loves riding horses & dancing the salsa—
Follow her on Twitter @ehoranpoet  & ehoranpoet

Bad Mommy Stay Mommy Blog Tour Poster


Review ~ Blog Tour ~Revenge Runs Deep by Pat Young.

Your boss is a bully. How far would you go to get revenge?
Thomas Smeaton is a powerful man who makes life a living hell for his employees.
When his bullying drives a woman to suicide, three of her colleagues decide it is time to take action before Smeaton destroys any more good people.
Six months later, a car is found submerged in a reservoir, with a single body inside. Suicide? Or murder?
Two people were there the night that car rolled into the depths of Loch Etrin. And one is still missing.
I would like to thank the author and blog tour organiser Sarah Hardy for the ARC in return for an honest review.
Having read the authors other books, I was chuffed to be offered the opportunity to review revenge runs deep. There is always a slight nervousness on my part when I come to read a book by an author I have enjoyed in the past, in case you don’t love it, but I’m glad to say that those fears were unfounded in this case! This is a highly enjoyable mystery that delivers on both excitement and enjoyment.
Centred around the actions of three colleagues of a women who commits suicide after she is bullied by her boss, its the story of their actions against Smeaton, a smug, cruel, egoistic tyrant.
Why did I enjoy it? It’s simple really, Pat Young delivers a story that we can all understand in some way.  I’ve been bullied by bosses who feel it is their god given right to lord it over their employees and have harboured secret thoughts of retribution, never acted on, but I’m sure many of us have felt this way; and the reason this book is so clever is it shows us the possible repercussions of on acting on your pain, from the safety of your arm chair, admittedly with a coffee and possibly a packet of biscuits.
The story is not fast paced, it’s all about the characters, their actions and the consequences of those behaviours.  Three adults deciding to teach the bully a lesson they won’t forget and we get to take that ride with them.  We watch while they veer between determination to really make him suffer, to just wanting him to show remorse as they fight a battle with their own inner voices about how far they are willing to go, and between the rights and wrongs of taking his punishment into their own hands. It makes for a fascinating read that had me gripped from page one until the final word. I was left more than a little gobsmacked by the notion of how far an individual is willing to go, when pushed past the point of no return. It is full of tantalising questions for the characters, about how they a react to egoistical tyrants like Smeaton and the cracks that begin to show between the three, as they each reach the boundaries of how much they are willing to do for revenge. The writer cleverly makes us invest in them as she reveals the back story to why they individually hate this man and asks us to understand why they hate him so much.  Confusingly I felt sympathy with them, a little revulsion around how far they were willing to go and empathy for their suffering.  I both wanted them to turn back from actions they could never recover from and yet confusingly I felt an insight for why they act as they do. I personally don’t believe in revenge, but cleverly Pat Young at the same time as delivering an exciting and thought provoking read, makes me sit back and think, that I can begin to understand why others can’t turn the other cheek.
This is a first class thriller and won I would definitely recommend.
You can purchase this novel from Amazon.
About the author 
Pat Young writes psychological thrillers. Her debut Till the Dust Settles won the Constable Stag Trophy and an Amazon number 1 best-seller award. Her recent release, One Perfect Witness, sat for a while at number 2 in the Scottish Crime charts, nestled between Rankin and Cleeves and ahead of the mighty Val Mc Dermid!

But Pat never intended to be a writer. Then a story got inside her head, demanding to be told. She is fascinated by what happens when someone suddenly disappears and all her books have that theme.

Pat loves meeting readers and has been on the programme at Bloody Scotland and Tidelines. She is really excited about appearing at this year’s Boswell Book Festival at Dumfries House in May where she plans to launch her fourth psychological thriller Revenge Runs Deep.

You can follow the author on Twitter.

Review ~ Blog Tour ~ Hunting Evil by Chris Carter.

Hunting Evil Cover

‘Every story one day comes to an end.’
As roommates, they met for the first time in college. Two of the brightest minds ever to graduate from Stamford Psychology University.
As adversaries, they met again in Quantico, Virginia. Robert Hunter had become the head of the LAPD’s Ultra Violent Crimes Unit. Lucien Folter had become the most prolific and dangerous serial killer the FBI had ever encountered.

Now, after spending three and a half years locked in solitary confinement, Lucien has finally managed to break free. And he’s angry.

For the past three and a half years, Lucien has thought of nothing else but vengeance.
The person responsible for locking him away has to pay, he has to suffer.
That person … is Robert Hunter.
And now it is finally time to execute the plan.


Many thanks to the author, publisher and blog tour organiser for the ARC in return for an honest review.

I used to be a big fan of these action thrillers, where the hero and villian are equally matched and it’s a battle to the end for who will survive. I’m glad to say after reading Hunting Evil I still am. It’s been a while since I read this type of book and I worried my reading tastes had changed, but I really enjoyed it.


Because I loved the hero, albeit in my view a reluctant one, Hunter is perfect hero material. Smart, not your cliche all muscle no brain, but a man with a keen intelligence and a deep rooted belief in justice. I loved that he had a vulnerable side to, that he respected his enemy enough, to be scared of the consequences of failing to return him to justice.

There there is Lucien.   Evil, a match in every other way for Hunter, in that he is intelligent, but that’s where I’m the similarities end. He made me feel very uncomfortable, scared me and that’s what I look for in a villian, I hated him so much I read on desperate to know he would be punished.

Then there is the story. It was thrilling, had plenty of action and kept me turning those pages at a rate of knots. It ticked all the boxes and made think I should start reading a few more action thrillers.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon and Waterstones.

About the author 

Chris Carter Author Photo

I was born in Brasilia, Brazil where I spent my childhood and teenage years. After graduating from high school, I moved to the USA where I studied psychology with specialization in criminal behaviour. During my University years I held a variety of odd jobs, ranging from flipping burgers to being part of an all male exotic dancing group.

I worked as a criminal psychologist for several years, during which I interviewed and worked on over one hundred cases involving serial killers, murderers and serious offenders, before moving to Los Angeles, where I swapped the suits and briefcases for ripped jeans, bandanas and an electric guitar. After a spell playing for several well known glam rock bands, I decided to try my luck in London, where I was fortunate enough to have played for a number of famous artists. I toured the world several times as a professional musician.

A few years ago I gave it all up to become a full time writer.

You can follow the author on his website Chris Carter Books.

FINAL Hunting Evil Blog Tour Poster

Review ~ Blog Tour ~Breakers by Doug Johnstone.

Breakers Final Cover

Seventeen-year-old Tyler lives in one of Edinburgh’s most deprived areas. Coerced into robbing rich people’s homes by his bullying older siblings, he’s also trying to care for his little sister and his drug-addict mum. On a job, his brother Barry stabs a homeowner and leaves her for dead, but that’s just the beginning of their nightmare, because the woman is the wife of Edinburgh’s biggest crime lord, Deke Holt. With the police and the Holts closing in, and his shattered family in devastating danger, Tyler meets posh girl Flick in another stranger’s house, and he thinks she may just be his salvation … unless he drags her down too. A pulsatingly tense psychological thriller, Breakers is also a breathtakingly brutal, beautiful and deeply moving story of a good kid in the wrong family, from one of Scotland’s finest crime writers.


Not published till May but this may be Doug Johnstone’s best book yet. An unsparing yet sympathetic depiction of Edinburgh’s ignored underclass, with terrific characterisation. Tense, pacy, filmic’ Ian Rankin



Many thanks to the author, publisher and blog tour organiser for the ARC in return for an honest review.

What can I say about this book, other than it is bloody fantastic.  It had me engrossed throughout. The story is all too plausible and full of the gritty reality of life on the edge of a city, tucked away from the romance of Edinburgh tourist laden streets.

The atmosphere is incredible, you can feel the tension ebbing off the pages, the threatening events and living nightmate than envelopes Tyler and his family.  I was so engrossed in the story, I forgot to turn out the lights at night and get some sleep. It all felt so real that when I did, I’m struggled to sleep, because I felt so unnerved and the slightest noise had me wondering who might be around.  For me that’s the mark of a top notch thriller, when it gets so far under your skin and sets the nerve endings firing on all cylinders.

On top of this, the story is quite moving in places. Tyler is forced into crime by an brutal brother, while caring for his little sister and drug addicted mother and his situation is written with a understanding of what poverty and hopelessness can do to a underclass robbed of all hope. Tyler is written with a survival instinct as part of his very being, which is sad because a child should never have to face the horror and violence which is part of his very existence. I found it near impossible to judge him for some of his actions, so nuanced was the writing and so real he felt to me as a reader.

Superb in its ability to distract me from real life troubles, addictive in that I found it near impossible to put down, Breakers by Doug Johnstone will certainly feature in my favourite reads of 2019.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon and Waterstones


About the author

Doug Johnstone

Doug Johnstone is an author, journalist and musician based in Edinburgh. He’s had eight novels published, most recently Fault Lines. His previous novel, The Jump, was a finalist for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. Several of his other novels have been award winners and bestsellers, and he’s had short stories published in numerous anthologies and literary magazines. His work has been praised by the likes of Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Irvine Welsh. Several of his novels have been optioned for film and television. Doug is also a Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow. He’s worked as an RLF Fellow at Queen Margaret University, taught creative writing at Strathclyde University and William Purves Funeral Directors. He mentors and assesses manuscripts for The Literary Consultancy and regularly tutors at Moniack Mhor writing retreat. Doug has released seven albums in various bands, and is the drummer for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He also reviews books for The Big Issue magazine, is player-manager for Scotland Writers Football Club and has a PhD in nuclear physics. Follow him on Twitter @doug_Johnstone and visit his website:

breakers blog poster 2019-2


Review ~ Blog Tour ~ Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

Call Me Star Girl Cover

A taut, emotive and all-consuming psychological thriller, reminiscent of Play Misty for Me … from the critically acclaimed author of Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost…

Stirring up secrets can be deadly … especially if they’re yours…

Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and the killer hasn’t been caught.

Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. She wants yours, and in exchange she will share some of hers. The ones she knows. But she doesn’t know everything.

Why has Stella’s mother, Elizabeth, finally returned fourteen years after leaving her with a neighbour? Is Stella’s new love, Tom, a man who likes to play games, exciting … or dangerous?

And who is the mysterious man calling the radio station to say he knows who killed Victoria? Tonight Stella’s final show may reveal the biggest secret of all…

With echoes of the chilling Play Misty for Me, Call Me Star Girl is a taut, emotive and all-consuming psychological thriller that plays on our deepest fears, providing a stark reminder that stirring up dark secrets from the past can be deadly…

Firstly I would like to thank the author, the blog tour organiser and publisher for the ARC in return for an honest review.

Louise Beech is a rare thing among writers; she can write across many genres and does so which such ease that you are left wondering what she will turn her hand to next, but as a reader you’re always confident that it will be surprising, beautifully written and exquisitely emotional. Call me Star Girl is yet another triumph, played out over one long night that stretches into the dawn, it’s about the death of a girl and the Stella a radio host, whose troubled past threatens to tear the world around her apart.

It’s hard to write a review about a book you loved, so worried are you that you will fail to do it justice. So here goes, why did I love Call Me Star Girl?
The luxury of spending time with a myriad of characters that are so complex and nuanced that spending time with them is an all consuming affair. Stella who is deeply troubled worms her way under your skin, so much so, that moving onto a new book, while she is still troubling your thoughts, seems like a betrayal in some way. Why she affected me so much is simple, abandoned as a young girl, caught up in a love affair that leaves you feeling uncomfortable, I wanted to save her, create a world where she could flourish. But only the writer can control her journey and you sail along with Stella and Beech, trusting them both not to destroy your hopes for an ending you can cope with. Her pain, her simple need to always be loved, reminds me of a young girl now a mother herself, whose need to be always loved, never again abandoned, could only in her head be ensured by having a child herself. Beech captures that exquisite and painful need, the ache of abandonment that seems to seep deep into a person’s very epicentre, that never quite goes away and wraps it up in the character of Stella, creating a damaged women, who ability to function is always caught up in the past she can never quite escape. She is a character I felt consumed by as a reader and one that will trouble me for quite some time.

As for the story itself, it’s not a fast thriller, it’s like a spool of thread, that slowly unwinds, revealing the story layer by layer, with the tension building, creating a gentle feeling of unease and maturing into chest thumping pressure. Beech through the voice of Stella and her mother unhurriedly reveals the dark secrets that bind this mother and daughter and which threaten their present, which I loved, because it allowed me to luxuriate in the story itself. I was put on edge slowly and as the feelings of panic built up for these characters, so they did it for me to. I turned each page never knowing where the twists were going to come. It all felt very claustrophobic on times, as the night progresses so does the feeling that the secrets all the main characters are keeping will no longer be able to be contained. I loved the way that the chapter’s alternative between present events and the past, building up a picture of what led the characters to where they are now and helps us to understand why they are projected head first into a night where secrets lead to Stella demanding answers to a life marred by loss and abandonment. Beech for me is saying that all actions have consequences and for some the devastation they wreak can never be contained.
This is another superb read from the author and proves as a writer she should never be pigeon holed into one genre. Thankfully she has found a publisher that celebrates this and never seeks to limit its authors to the same style of story.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon and Waterstones.


About the author

Louise Beech Author Photo

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The sequel, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Maria in the Moon was compared to Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, and widely reviewed. All three books have been number one on Kindle, Audible and Kobo in USA/UK/AU. She regularly writes travel pieces for the Hull Daily Mail, where she was a columnist for ten years. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice and being published in a variety of UK magazines. Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

You can follow the author on Twitter

call me star girl blog poster 2019

Review ~ Blog Tour ~ The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon.

The Ringmaster Final Cover


The heart-stoppingly tense next instalment in the richly atmospheric, bestselling Sam Shephard series … for fans of The Dry


Death is stalking the southern South Island of New Zealand…

Marginalised by previous antics, Sam Shephard, is on the bottom rung of detective training in Dunedin, and her boss makes sure she knows it. She gets involved in her first homicide investigation, when a university student is murdered in the Botanic Gardens, and Sam soon discovers this is not an isolated incident. There is a chilling prospect of a predator loose in Dunedin, and a very strong possibility that the deaths are linked to a visiting circus…

Determined to find out who’s running the show, and to prove herself, Sam throws herself into an investigation that can have only one ending…

Rich with atmosphere, humour and a dark, shocking plot, The Ringmaster marks the return of passionate, headstrong police officer, Sam Shephard, in the next instalment of Vanda Symon’s bestselling series.


‘Vanda Symon’s fast-paced crime novels are as good as anything the US has to offer – a sassy heroine, fabulous sense of place, and rip-roaring stories with a twist. Perfect curl-up-on-the-sofa reading’ Kate Mosse


I would like to thank the author and blog tour organiser for the ARC in return for an honest review.

What can I say other than The Ring Master is another superb book from the hugely talented Vanda Symon! I have been a massive fan since I read the first in this series, Overkill and was anticipating an exciting read when I started the new book and oh boy was I a happy reader when I finished his novel. It is electrifying, has a fabulous female lead, taunt and well paced story and I loved it.

What’s not to love. It has a sassy, independent female lead, who is a natural detective, with an intuitive understanding of the criminal mind. Don’t get me wrong, she’s not perfect, but then who of us are?   Her impulsiveness often gets her into trouble, but at the same time, it is what makes her a great character, you never know how she is going to react and it gives her an edginess that is often lacking in other fictional female detectives.  In this novel she has gone from being  the only police officer in small town New Zealand, to detective training in Dunedin and is very much at the bottom of the ladder, with a boss that actively derides her.  Yet she doesn’t let this crush her, Sam is made of stronger stuff and she is determined to find the killer of a young talented student, even if this places her own life in danger! It’s what I love most about her, the passion and unwavering determination to track down a killer and be the best detective she can possibly be.  Sam is a masterly creation and I could read about her forever and not get bored, because as the book series moves forward, so does she, ever developing and evolving as a character.

As for the story itself, it is intelligent and perfectly paced.  We are pitched head first into the murder of a university student and from there we follow Sams determined pursuit of the killer.  Frequently the writer took me down a dead end, making me think for a moment that I had figured out who the killer was, only for me to realise too late I had been utterly fooled.  I loved that, I hate figuring out who did what too soon and so this book was an utter delight to read.  Vanda Symon weaves a masterly tale, so utterly compelling that putting it down to do boring things like go to work, was actually quite painful.  I didn’t want to be ripped away from the cocoon the story had weaved around me and I certainly need to be sure that one of my favourite characters would survive to feature in even more gripping tales!  I loved the way the circus played a central part in the story as it gave it a unique feel. Not only the protesters who were trying to get it closed down and Sam’s intelligent and amusing reaction,  but for the unexpected ways it added a sense of pathos to the story.  I expected to be thrilled reading this book, it is a detective story, but I wasn’t expecting the moments of sadness which added an emotional depth to the story and made it much more than your typical thriller for me.

The Sam Shephard series has so much to recommend it and I absolutely adore it. Without a doubt I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book to any reader, both as a standalone novel and part of a pretty special series of books.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon and Waterstones.

About the author

vanda_jacket_br (1)

Vanda Symon (born 1969) is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. The Sam Shephard series has hit number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for best crime novel. She currently lives in Dunedin, with her husband and two sons.

You can follow the author on her Website and Twitter.

The Ringmaster blog poster 2019 (1)

Extract ~Blog Tour ~ The Stars In The Night by Clare Rhoden

Stars in the Night(small)

The Stars in the Night
“Harry Fletcher is a confident young man, sure that he will marry Nora, no matter what their families say. He will always protect Eddie, the boy his father saved from the gutters of Port Adelaide.
Only the War to End All Wars might get in the way of Harry’s plans…
From the beaches of Semaphore to the shores of Gallipoli, the mud of Flanders to the red dust of inland South Australia, this is a story of love, brotherhood, and resilience.”

Stars in the Night


January 1915

Nora stopped by the baker’s. It was cooler under the verandah, though the north wind still swooped under her hat brim and plucked out strands of hair to flutter around her face. Her cousin Jenny was having the same trouble, holding her hat on with both hands.
‘Oh, do let’s go in, just for a minute! I must get out of this wind. Only think how ruinous to the complexion!’
Nora knew a momentary hesitation. Foolish, to think after all this time she’d be shy in the baker’s. She was a lady now, and far beyond any shyness of that sort. The last time she was in Semaphore was eight years ago. She drew herself together and opened the door for Jenny. After all, who knew what might have changed in that time? The sign still read Fletchers Bakery, but that was no guarantee the Fletchers would still be there. It was certainly no guarantee that anyone would remember her from her childhood holidays.
Inside the shop, it was quiet and dark after the sun’s glare. A shade was drawn over the side window, protecting the bread, black rye and brown wheat, light oat bread and glazed rolls, arrayed on the slanted trays of the rack against the wall. A lower counter bearing small iced biscuits, fruit buns and exquisitely decorated cakes stood before a curtained door. A tall glass vase, like—exactly like—a preserving jar, and filled with sprays of eucalypt and a couple of stems of daylily, caught the strong morning light fingering its way past the screen. A scent of fruit and cinnamon overpowered the eucalypt. It was not very much cooler than it had been on the verandah. As they closed the door on the wind behind them, a young man stepped around the curtain.
Nora knew immediately that it was Harry. Harry Fletcher, the baker’s son, the boy she remembered from her last summer at the seaside. He hadn’t seen her; he was smiling at Jenny and wiping his hands on a floury apron. Who wouldn’t smile at Jenny? thought Nora, recognising her cousin’s greater claims to beauty. Small and fair, Jenny had grown from an insipid, whining child into an angelic vision. That, at least, was what one young man had written to her, just before they left England some months previously. Jenny had laughed, but Nora had to admit a kernel of truth in his tormented verse. Jenny’s skin was ‘like peaches’, and her lips were ‘like a dark folded rosebud’. Nora suppressed a sigh.
Harry was surprised by the sight before him. He knew everyone who bought bread from Fletchers. He made up all the deliveries and accounts and did most of the serving. He knew the households, the hotels, the boarding houses, and the cafes. He knew the widower from Bower Road and the housekeeper at the presbytery. He knew the schoolmistress and the kids who clamoured for cream buns on their way home. He knew the young mothers, and the worn ones, the grandmas and the blokes from the wharf. This little girl—this little woman, this pretty birdlike creature dressed all in palest blue, he did not know. It made him smile. The world was maybe still full of wonders, even here. He supposed her to be one of the holiday-makers enjoying a week at the seaside, staying at one of the hotels on Main Street. Not many of them came into Fletchers, though; there were more genteel tea parlours further up the hill.
He put his forearm up and scrubbed his forehead. Then he said, ‘Yes, miss?’ with the laugh that always seemed about to break out behind his everyday speech, as if he were sharing a joke behind the words he said aloud, a joke that you and he knew, that you kept against everyone else. Nora suppressed another sigh. He was exactly as she remembered him; or, no, exactly as she thought he would be after eight years. Still smiling, still with that straight, almost challenging direct gaze. He hadn’t grown very tall, but as a boy he had been small for his age. His voice was surprisingly deep, for all that. He was compact in build, with short brown hair and just the suggestion he could have shaved more carefully that morning. His eyes, a flecked hazel, were large and fixed unwaveringly on Jenny. His brows and lashes were dark, darker than his hair, and he still had that dimple in his chin, though the chin was now squarer. He was as she had thought he might be, imagined idly through the months, the years at school.
He hadn’t even seen her.
Jenny preened in front of him, turning a little so that she brought Nora into the conversation. ‘Oh, we thought we’d step in out of the wind,’ she said sweetly. ‘And perhaps have something for morning tea?’
Harry glanced almost absent-mindedly toward the vision’s companion, but the glance was enough. Nora didn’t know where to look. He was staring at her, actually staring, and the smile had gone. It was a long moment—long enough for the colour to flush up her neck and over her cheeks before the smile returned.
‘Ah!’ said Harry, with a lift of his chin. He folded his arms. ‘Nora—I mean, Miss MacTierney, don’t I? It is, isn’t it? From somewhere up north, near the copper country. I remember you.’
Jenny looked in surprise from one to the other. Secretive Nora! She had never mentioned that she knew, actually knew someone in one of the shops in Semaphore. Imagine! Yet here they were, these two, smiling at one another as if they had known each other for ages. That couldn’t be so; why, Nora had spent the last six years in England. And they had only arrived in this dear little seaside town yesterday. But Nora and this very—well, this very Australian young man—were taking stock of each other like old friends.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon

You can also enter a Giveaway to Win a signed copy of The Stars in the Night, a metal poppy brooch made by a Melbourne craftswoman, and a cross-stitch poppy card. (Open Internationally) by following this LINK
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.




About the author

Stars in the Night - ClareRhoden

Clare Rhoden writes historical fiction, sci-fi and fantasy (check her titles at Odyssey Books Clare lives in Melbourne Australia with her husband Bill, their super-intelligent poodle-cross Aeryn, a huge and charming parliament of visiting magpies, and a very demanding/addictive garden space.
Clare completed her PhD in Australian WWI literature at the University of Melbourne in 2011, and a Masters of Creative Writing in 2008, in which she investigated the history of her grandparents who emigrated for Europe to Port Adelaide in January 1914. The Stars in the Night is the result of her research.

You can follow the author on her website, FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Stars in the Night Full Tour Banner