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

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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.

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About the author.

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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.

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Review ~ Blog Tour ~An Echo of Scandal by Laura Madeleine.

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In the dead of night, with blood on her hands, she made her escape.

Accused of murder, Alejandra flees her home, escaping to the southern edge of Spain, where she faces a life of poverty and destitution.

Seduced by the power of the rich and the anonymity that waits across the water in Tangier, Ale makes a bid for a new start. But it will come at a cost: a life of deception. Because Ale’s new friends want to know what she is running from, they want to know who she is and whether they can trust her.

Fifty years later, a young American writer wanders the streets of Tangier, searching for inspiration. When he stumbles across a trace of Ale’s life, he finds himself tangled in a story of scandal, love and danger that has not yet reached its end.


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

I have always been a sucker for a well written historical drama, because handled well they can embrace you in times past, closing off current worries.  I’m glad to say that An Echo of Scandal did this. Wanting to escape the travesty of Brexit, I was taken back in time and to Tangiers, where we first meet Alejandra, who accused of murder flees to find safety in this exotic city. Then forward we go to meet a young American writer, Sam, who stumbles upon a scandal, that has reverberated through the years.

So why did I enjoy it?

First of course is the story, that manages to flip back and fore between two time periods with ease, creating a flawless dual time narrative. which by the end, comes together and delivers a first class historical mystery. It’s not easy to create a story over years, but Laura Madeline does it with skill and grace. None of the awkward, clumsy moves between periods, which makes it read with ease and turns it into a compulsive read.

I loved the use of cocktail recipes and instructions that often sign posted the changes in period within a chapter. It is both classy and original. I have never seen this before and the author uses it with considerable success. You might be a little drunk if you try them all while reading, but your going to end up with a fantastic group of receipies at the end of this really entertaining read.

It is full of numerous twists and turns that led me down many a wrong turn and then surprised me with yet another revelation I had not seen coming.  It is worth the ride because by getting to the end you have read a sumptuous historical novel, with a exciting mystery at it’s very core.

The atmosphere is truly magical. You really feel like your there is Tangier, walking through the grand souk. In one scene I felt encircled by the heady aroma’s and delectable looking food. My head left spinning from the cacophony of voices all around me.

Finally there is of course the characters.  It’s hard to discuss Alejandra without giving too much of the story away, but what I can say is she is fascinating.  She is everything I love in a female character, not defined by her gender, but brave enough to find her own way if given the chance.  Sam is just how I imagine a struggling writer to be, filled with self doubt, searching for  his muse, poor, but richer for pursuing his dream, Art is everything to him. As with Alejandra, I wanted him to find a way to success and fulfilment.

Whether he does, whether Alejandra survives and how they are tied together, I will leave for you to find out.

Its worth it!

You can purchase this novel from Amazon and Waterstones

About the author


After a childhood spent acting professionally and training at a theatre school, Laura Madeleine changed her mind, and went to study English Literature at Newnham College, Cambridge. She is the bestselling author of The Confectioner’s Tale, Where the Wild Cherries Grow, The Secrets Between Us and An Echo of Scandal, which have been translated into over a dozen languages. She lives in Bristol, but can often be found visiting her family in Devon, getting up to mischief with her sister, fantasy author Lucy Hounsom. You can find her on twitter @lauramadeleine
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Guest Post ~ Blog Tour ~ Two Tides To Turn by R R Gall. #ANewWritingDay #ThisIsMe

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A family ripped asunder. A terrible secret lurks in a thrilling novel of love, grief, and mystery.
Patrick thought his grandfather, John, died before he was born. In later life, he finds out that it wasn’t true. For the first five years of Patrick’s life, they stayed in the same small village. So why were they kept apart? Patrick wishes to search the past to find the reason – but only if he can be united with his young daughter first. And that means bringing her home to Scotland. It means journeying to France to take her away from the care of her mother, Patrick’s ex-wife. In 1915, with the war raging in Europe, John is a young man working on the family farm. Not yet old enough to enlist but aware of its looming threat, he meets Catherine. But his attempts at courtship end suddenly when an accident rips his life apart. Told in alternate chapters, set, mainly, in South-West Scotland, this is the dramatic story of Patrick, interwoven with John.

I’d like to welcome author R R Gall to booksaremycwtches today with a fascinating guest post he writing day.

Two Tides To Turn

This is me.

It is a new writing day. Breakfast over, I am happy to go to my bare room and sit in my comfortable chair – bought from a small, fairly unknown, Swedish retailer. I’ve recently discovered these stores, modelled on the queuing system at passport control in airports, where you shuffle, mile upon mile, without ever venturing more than a few yards from the starting point. Nevertheless, this passport experience can, at times, bring a modicum of enjoyment – when a plane-load of passengers arrive to an empty room, and the more anarchic of them, rather than trudge the zigzag path to the front, attempt short-cuts by ducking under the tape, invariably catching suitcases and hanking rucksacks, leaving them caught, tangled, and wriggling like fish on a line, as we, the more law-abiding citizens, stroll casually past, without a thought to help, stifling the urge to giggle.
Anyway, as I saw saying, I’m in my austere room. The laptop is on my knee. It fires up expectantly. The cursor winks at me, knowingly, wondering where I will be taking it today – will it be on one of those thrilling rides of discovery, or will it be to some dimly-lit, murky corner where browsing history is deleted, cleaned like muddy, grubby boots on a mat?
Today, once again, the cursor will be disappointed, as, for the last six years now, in a bid to remove distractions, this computer has had no connection with the internet, no contact to the outside world, it has been a prisoner, a recluse, barred from uttering a single word to its fellow-kind. However, this solitary confinement does not stop the virus checker from throwing up regular announcements about boldly and heroically thwarting several severe attacks of late, slaying lots of virus dragons, as well as storming the many castles of malware. (which I think are south of the city of Delaware)
Onto business then. Yesterday’s writing session went well. Naturally, some sentences will need to be changed, a paragraph altered here and there, some things (not sure what as yet) inserted in various places, and some bits deleted – in other words, a handful of sentences can be used. But, overall, it was decent enough effort and I am buoyed and ready for more of the same, eager to set this book careering towards a finish.
There should be no delay, no time to waste. So press the story tab.
I hesitate.
My finger hovers.
I click on the scrabble icon instead, and play a quick game.
What was the point in cutting the machine off from the distractions of the world, if you still leave games on it? Get on with your writing!
I follow up with a second game of scrabble, then a couple of rounds of solitaire, telling myself this warms up the brain.
Finally, at least half an hour later, the screen fills with familiar words, and I begin typing.
Every day. Every-blasted-day it happens – this compulsion to do something else, anything other than write.
What is the meaning of this procrastination? Lack of confidence? A fear that I might not be able to finish, or, if I eventually do, the dread that the result will be poor? Not up to my expectations? No use? A waste of effort?
Is it just me? Am I the only one who feels this? Is there anyone else?
I do some digging and find these illuminating quotations:

“Prowling about the rooms, sitting down, getting up, stirring the fire, looking out the window, teasing my hair, sitting down to write, writing nothing, writing something and tearing it up…” — Charles Dickens.

“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” — George Orwell.

Now I feel somewhat better. If these great men didn’t always find it easy, yet managed to create such immense work, then there is a ray of hope for me.
Some say procrastination is wasting time, being lazy; others say is it a sign you are not quite ready and it’s part of the thought process. I will go with the latter.
I cannot achieve the great heights of those esteemed authors, but, if I take my time and not rush, in my own way, I might produce, eventually, something of which to be proud.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon UK and Amazon US

About the author

Two Tides Author

RR Gall lives in Scotland and is the author of: The Case of the Pig in the Evening Suit, The Case of Colourful Clothes and Kilts, The Case of the Hermit’s Guest Bedroom Two Tides To Turn, A Different Place to Die, Only the Living Can Die.
Social Media Links –

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Review – Blog Tour- The Last Landlady by Laura Thompson #NonFiction

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Spectator book of the year: “An eclectic mix of social history and elegy, ironic comedy and indelible Englishness. It is about the pub as theatre.”

Laura Thompson’s grandmother Violet was one of the great landladies. Born in a London pub, she became the first woman to be given a publican’s licence in her own name and, just as pubs defined her life, she seemed in many ways to embody their essence.

Laura spent part of her childhood in Violet’s Home Counties establishment, mesmerised by her gift for cultivating the mix of cosiness and glamour that defined the pub’s atmosphere, making it a unique reflection of the national character. Her memories of this time are just as intoxicating: beer and ash on the carpets in the morning, the deepening rhythms of mirth at night, the magical brightness of glass behind the bar…

Through them Laura traces the story of the English pub, asking why it has occupied such a treasured position in our culture. But even Violet, as she grew older, recognised that places like hers were a dying breed, and Laura also considers the precarious future they face. Part memoir, part social history, part elegy, The Last Landlady pays tribute to an extraordinary woman and the world she epitomised.

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

I love history with a passion, especially social history that takes us away from the battlefields, into the lives of ordinary yet extraordinary people and so I was delighted to get to chance to read Laura Thompson’s biography of her grandmother. It is a warm-hearted piece of writing, gentle to read, but also illuminating in the way it takes us back to a world many won’t recognise, but which shaped all of our todays.

It is a remarkable highbred of social history, memoir and as it states in the blurb, a fitting tribute not just to times gone by, but an exceptional women.  The grand stages of history, give us one off examples of women leaders, but behind the scenes are even greater finds, women like Violet, the first women to be given a publicans licence in her own name.  What I found so fascinating about this book, was how it brought Violet to life, almost as if she stood behind my shoulder, reading the book with me, so vibrant was the picture painted by her granddaughter.  Here was a women, not defined by her gender, but emboldened by it, she was a Queen within her own domain and I think rather magnificent. None of the hardened, threatening masculinity Thatcher had to present to be accepted by men. Violet didn’t need a man, but she was intelligent enough to understand that within her domain men were needed, they just weren’t in charge.

The other side of this wonderful book was its focus on the history of the pub itself. The writer gives us a fascinating insight to a its development, how it acted as a social hub in it’s heyday and its almost invariable decline as the world around it moved on. I’m of a generation who’s father often went to the pub on the way home from work, just for a pint, or when on holiday, only being able to sit outside in the bear garden, so this book brought back many memories for me as a reader. It also made me release that the traditional pub still has a place to play in our communities, but that for young people like my niece, it’s time has passed and quite rightly.  For her, the world has opened up and she would never feel comfortable in that environment; but still it was a part of my childhood and I’m grateful for Laura Thompson for writing this moving, honest and fitting tribute not only to the pub, but to her quite remarkable grandmother. Women like Violet, even if they were not aware, were blazing a trial for equality for women like me, my gorgeous niece and god daughters.

I really can’t recommend this book enough, it is a gem of a biography of a woman who really deserves to be remembered.  Raise a drink to Violet, her world and all the other significant women lost to history.

You can purchase this book from Amazon and Waterstones

About the author

Laura Thompson Author Pic

Laura Thompson attended stage school and at the age of sixteen won an exhibition to read English at Oxford. Her first book, THE DOGS: A PERSONAL HISTORY OF GREYHOUND RACING, won the Somerset Maugham Award. In her twenties she wrote extensively about sport and published two books about horse racing: QUEST FOR GREATNESS, the story of her favourite racehorse Lammtarra, and NEWMARKET, a history of the town where she lived for some years.

In 2003 she wrote LIFE IN A COLD CLIMATE, a biography of Nancy Mitford, reissued by Head of Zeus in early 2015. This was followed by the first major biography of Agatha Christie for more than twenty years, which is published in the US by Pegasus in 2018. A DIFFERENT CLASS OF MURDER: THE STORY OF LORD LUCAN is also reissued in 2018, in a new edition containing previously excised information.

THE SIX, which tells the story of the Mitford sisters, became a New York Times best seller in October 2016.

Among various TV appearances she has presented a BBC4 film BACK TO THE BARRE, about her return to ballet in adulthood. She recently appeared in UKTV/ Netflix’s A TALE OF TWO SISTERS, about the relationship between Diana and Jessica Mitford, and this year is filming a documentary about the Orient Express.

She is a contributing editor to Town and Country magazine and writes for Harper’s Bazaar.

Along with the reissues, two new books will be published in 2018: REX V EDITH THOMPSON (Head of Zeus and Pegasus), a re-examination of the famous 1922 Thompson-Bywaters murder case, and THE LAST LANDLADY (Unbound), a memoir of her publican grandmother.

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Review – Blog Tour – Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson

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Spain, 1938: The country is wracked by civil war, and as Valencia falls to Franco’s brutal dictatorship, Republican Teresa witnesses the murders of her family. Captured and sent to the notorious Las Ventas women’s prison, Teresa gives birth to a daughter who is forcibly taken from her.

Falkenberg, Sweden, 2016: A wealthy family is found savagely murdered in their luxurious home. Discovering that her parents have been slaughtered, Aliénor Lindbergh, a new recruit to the UK’s Scotland Yard, rushes back to Sweden and finds her hometown rocked by the massacre.

Profiler Emily Roy joins forces with Aliénor and her colleague, true-crime writer Alexis Castells, and they soon find themselves on the trail of a monstrous and prolific killer, in an investigation that takes them from the Swedish fertility clinics of the present day back to the terror of Franco’s rule, and the horrifying events that took place in Spanish orphanages under its rule…
Terrifying, vivid and recounted at breakneck speed, Blood Song is not only a riveting thriller and an examination of corruption in the fertility industry, but a shocking reminder of the atrocities of Spain’s dictatorship, in the latest, stunning installment in the award-winning Roy & Castells series.

‘ I don’t think there’s a crime writer who writes with such intelligence, darkness and deep sadness as Johana Gustawsson. This was extraordinary’ Louise Beech


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

Johana Gustawsson has in this the third instalment of the Roy and Castells series delivered a tour de force in thriller writing, with a historical backdrop both shocking and heart achingly hard to read on times. But read on you must, because to not  would be denying yourself a novel of great breath and herculean achievement. On one hand it is a stunningly controlled account of the atrocities of Spain’s rulers much akin to Victoria Hislop’s account of Greece’s military dictatorship in Those Who Are Loved. On the other, it is a spine chilling thriller, where the crimes of the past, come to haunt the present with horrifying consequences.

There is simply so many reasons why this book deserves on be on the bookcase of all lovers of literature.

The characters being the first. I am admittedly a die hard fan of both Roy and Castell. Strong, intelligent women, who don’t have to rely on men for their positions, because their innate intelligence and understanding of human natures at it’s darkest level, makes them perfect detectives. The men around them are not their leaders by default, but because they to, deserve their positions. Spending company with these two characters, is a pleasure, I wanted to read more about them from the first book and continue to do so. Their independence and vulnerabilities, combine together to give me characters I can both love and admire, still rare enough in modern thriller writing to make this pair icons. They represent all I want to see in modern fiction, intelligent women working as equals and not handy assistants. Nor are they left to stand still development wise, they continue to move forward. As Alexis prepares for her wedding, she comes to understand more of what this means to her without it bringing a shuddering halt to her career. While Roy we perceive as more rounded, her reticence and social awkwardness are her super powers, she and Alexis see past the layers of distortion that surround the killer and can see into the unbalanced mind that triggers such horrific killings.

The history plays a very important part in this novel and I found it equal parts fascinating and deeply troubling. As with Victotia Hislop’s novel, I was ignorant of Spain’s past. I think of the modern Spain we know so well and knew nothing of the horror that sits in its past. I revelled in the history, because it was a seamless part of the novel, and handled with such grace and sensitivity. It has haunted me enough that I want to know more, a credit to both the writer and her knowledgeable use of fact, weaving it into a story of such complexity and emotional depth.

This really is a writer at the top of her game. She gave me a novel that will sit with me for a long time. I have no worries about recommending this and the other books in the series to anyone that will listen.

Give it a read and if you haven’t read the others, read those two, because they are worth every penny you spend on them.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon and Waterstones .

About the author. 

Johana Gustawsson

Born in Marseille, France, and with a degree in Political Science, Johana Gustawsson has worked as a journalist for the French and Spanish press and television. Her critically acclaimed Roy & Castells series, including Block 46, Keeper and, soon to be published, Blood Song, has won the Plume d’Argent, Balai de la découverte, Balai d’Or and Prix Marseillais du Polar awards, and is now published in nineteen countries. A TV adaptation is currently underway in a French, Swedish and UK co-production. Johana lives in London with her Swedish husband and their three sons.

You can follow the author on Twitter

About the translator. 

David Warriner translates from French and nurtures a healthy passion for Franco, Nordic and British crime fiction. Growing up in deepest Yorkshire, he developed incurable Francophilia at an early age. Emerging from Oxford with a modern languages degree, he narrowly escaped the graduate rat race by hopping on a plane to Canada – and never looked back. More than a decade into a high-powered commercial translation career, he listened to his heart and turned his hand again to the delicate art of literary translation. David has lived in France and Quebec, and now calls beautiful British Columbia home.





Extract~ Blog Tour ~ A River Of Bodies by Kevin Doyle.

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In this sequel to his impressive debut novel To Keep A Bird Singing, Kevin Doyle delves further into the murky world of the powerful Donnelly family and their association with the Catholic church and the security forces. The clock is ticking as Noelie and his friends try to uncover the network of corruption and deception that the family have used to protect themselves and their operations. But Albert Donnelly is onto Noelie and there s nothing he won t do to stop him.

Edgy, dark and sharp, Kevin Doyle s A River of Bodies is a cracking political thriller restless, brilliantly plotted and topical.


They took a break and went outside to the back garden. It was grassy and bordered by a low ditch wall. Near the vegetable patch a small gate gave access to a path. Katrina followed it as far as the brow of the hill and then called to them all to join her. Noelie went. The sky was now entirely clear of clouds and the sun felt warm. There was lots of scrub and heather around; the heather looked like it was thriving.
From where she stood, there was a view of Horseshoe Bay. The headlands, forming the jaws of the inlet, sloped down to a narrow gap at the mouth. Beyond, the open sea looked choppy.
Martin and Black Gary joined them. Martin announced he was going to have a swim and Katrina decided to go too. They went across spongy ground, along rocks to a pebbly inlet that allowed easy access to the water. Noelie watched them strip and wade in.
Katrina swam out. Its beautiful, she called.
Liar, shouted Noelie.
Really it is, said Martin waving. Come on in.
Black Gary watched Noelie. Im thinking the water isnt what it used to be for you.
It was never my first love but youre right, recent events havent helped the relationship.
Noelie had nearly drowned in the summer. He had gone with Meabh to visit Albert Donnelly at his home, Llanes, on Sundays Well Road in Cork. Albert had drugged him, and when Noelie woke up hed found that he and Meabh had been imprisoned in an underground cavern, which was beginning to fill with water. Noelie had nearly died. Meabh had rescued him. Later on they had worked out that the cavern was hidden under the garden at Llanes. It was positioned close to the Lee river so that when the tide rose and fell, the cavern filled and emptied of water. Noelie knew he was very lucky to be still alive. He regularly had nightmares about what had happened in the cavern.
He shivered. To escape the memory he said, It is beautiful here, it really is.
I love it. Its good having you all here of course, but I like when Im on my own here too. He put an arm around Noelies shoulder. Dont worry. Well be okay.
Noelie smiled. Okay, Ill try a paddle. Face my fears. Isnt that what they say you should do? He removed his shoes and socks, rolled up his trouser legs and waded in to his knees. Theyll slag me unmercifully. Paddling at my age.
It is a bit sad, agreed Black Gary.
Noelie heard a cry from the swimmers. It was Katrina. Get in, you wuss.
On the far side of the bay, close to the eastern headland, a yacht was anchored. People were jumping from the boat into the sea, having fun. Laughter travelled across the water to where Noelie and Black Gary were standing. Noelie went over to a large flat rock and sat down. Black Gary joined him. They watched Martin and Katrina, who were chatting as they treaded water, about twenty metres out.
I took a look at Llanes while you were away, Noelie. Borrowed Hannahs car and parked up on Sundays Well, close by. No sign of Albert Donnelly, of course, but Robert came and went most days.
Robert Donnelly was Alberts older brother. He was also a former head of the gardaí in Cork city; he had retired in the mid-nineties due to failing health. From what Noelie knew, Robert Donnelly was suffering from Parkinsons. Since Alberts disappearance a full-time carer was staying with him in Llanes.
Robert attends Mass each morning. They have a specially adapted car, a boxy thing, a Berlingo. Easy to spot. Leaves again most afternoons to take Robert over to the day centre in Bishopstown. A few other people came and went while I was there. No one I recognised. And a skip was delivered.
A skip? Building work?
Looks like it. Theres something else too. New planting at the end of the garden along the riverbank. In the past you could see right into Llanes from the other side of the river. Not any more.
Noelie thought about this. One idea theyd had was to break in to Llanes. Alberts stash of home movies was still in the house: multiple recordings made in the late fifties and sixties. Noelie knew better than to imagine that any of the abuse films would be left lying around but the regular home movies could be useful for a different reason. Albert might well have recorded some of the social events he had attended as a young man and these could help with building up a picture of his life and who his acquaintances were back in those times. That might help them uncover a link to the wider group involved in the abuse at the farm.
Llanes is empty for about two hours each afternoon, weekdays. Two hours would be enough time for us to get in and out.
Two hours is plenty, agreed Noelie.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon

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About the author 

Kevin Doyle Author Pic

Kevin Doyle is an award-winning short-story writer from Cork, Ireland. He has won a number of awards including the Michael McLaverty Short Story Award (2016) and a CAP ‘Indie’ Award for Do You Like Oranges? The Worms That Saved The World, an illustrated children’s book (in collaboration with Spark Deeley) was published to much acclaim in 2017. A first novel is due in the near future.

You can follow the author on Twitter

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Review ~ Blog Tour ~ Avaline Saddlebags by Netta Newbound and Marcus Brown #LGBT #Thriller


Following the brutal murders of Jade Kelly and Gina Elliot, newly promoted DI Dylan Monroe is assigned to work the case, alongside DS Layla Monahan.

As the body count rapidly rises—each slaying more savage than the last—it soon becomes clear the butchered and mutilated victims have one thing in common—they are all male to female transsexuals.

With time against them, Dylan is forced to go undercover in the only place that provides a link to the victims—Dorothy’s, a well-known drag and cabaret bar in the heart of Liverpool.

Avaline Saddlebags is a gripping, often amusing, psychological thriller with an astonishing twist that will take your breath away… change can be DEADLY!


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

This has to be one of my favourite thrillers this year! Why?

Yes it is exciting and addictive, but it also deals with tough subjects with respect. The hero DI Dylan Monroe, is brave, has a heart as big as an ocean and a steely determination to bring the twisted killer of female transsexuals to justice. Perfect material for a thriller with a twist.  I adored him, he is venerable, yet determined to do both his job and the victims, the service they deserve. Openly gay, he grows throughout the novel as it progresses, from a determination not to be an overtly feminine gay man, which he fears, to understanding, that by embracing the world of the transsexuals, he can embrace every facet of what makes him such a wonderful person and top notch investigator. Monroe is a multi faceted character, with so many layers of emotion and personality, I could not help but love spending time with him. Balance him against a killer who like a ticking time bomb and you have the perfect balance. The question being, who will come out on top? Its what makes this story a thriller that had me spellbound.

The story itself develops around the violent murders of a group of transsexual women and the almost pathological hate directed at them. Very topical given the current climate, the story needed to be both honest in the use of violence and yet balance that out with the portrayal of the reality of life for transsexual women. Avaline Saddlebags does this with a great big heart and brutal gritty honesty. Giving the story hidden strengths and an emotional impact that left me desperate for justice, delivered by Dylan Monroe.  On top of spine tingling excitement, that had me turning the page desperate to see the killer caught. It is a thriller and I wanted to be thrilled, I can happily say that I was. The pacing was full-bodied and the wonderful thing was the quieter moments allowed you to breath, before the once again you were launched into the increasing maelstrom of a killer on the edge of madness.

I can’t wait to see what will come next from this writing partnership.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon

About the author’s

Netta’s Bio:
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Netta Newbound, originally from Manchester, England, has lived in New Zealand with her husband Paul for the past 22 years, but they are on the move again. By August, they will be back in Cumbria, UK, and she vows this is the very last move!
As a child, Netta was plagued by a wild imagination, often getting in trouble for making up weird and wonderful stories. Yet she didn’t turn her attention to writing until after her children had grown and left home.
Most of her inspiration comes from the horror greats–Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Richard Layman.Netta mostly writes psychological thriller novels, all of which consistently rank highly in the best seller categories. She is currently writing a series of crime thrillers with Marcus Brown, her son-in-law and business partner.
Marcus’ Bio:
My name is Marcus Brown and I was born and raised in the North West of England in 1974.
I live with my partner and our three dogs, Susie, Sally and Sammy, plus our cat, Tobias.
What started as a hobby has now turned into a full-time obsession that often keeps me awake late into the night or through to the early hours of the morning.
I can be relaxing in bed watching a good movie and an idea will suddenly pop into my mind. That’s as much as it takes… I have to get up and write it down because I worry I’ll forget it. This quickly turns into a marathon writing session, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’ve always had the wildest of imaginations, but I surprise and scare myself at times and have actually had to step away from my desk because what I have written has affected me so much.
People often ask me where the ideas come from and if I’m honest, I think it is from watching others around me. I can be out doing something as mundane as shopping and see something that inspires me and it usually winds its way into what I’m writing at the time. But if it’s especially good and doesn’t fit at the time, it’s stored on my hard drive for a future book.
I hope you enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoy writing them.
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Review ~ Blog Tour ~ Daisy Daydream – The Nursery Rhyme Bus by Sue Wickstead.

Daisy Daydream Cover

Daisy Daydream the Nursery Rhyme Bus
Daisy was a happy red bus who loved travelling the busy streets of London.
When newer and shinier buses came along, the older buses like Daisy began to disappear.
would Daisy become one of the forgotten buses, or was something else planned for her?

Daisy Daydream The Nursery Rhyme Bus


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

Having read and reviewed the first of the series of books written by Sue Wickstead, I was delighted to be offered the chance to review Daisy Daydream.

There is so much to delight both young and older readers. A wonderful story, beautiful illustrations by Helen Smith and at the back of the book. the real life story of the number 73 bus, this book is based on. It is the perfect combination of story, to entertain the child and fact to inspire their love of learning.

The story focuses around a Daisy Daydream, who soon to be replaced by new sleek buses, is turned into a play bus for young children. What I loved was the way the author not only told a charming and fun filled story, she teaches the reader, that embracing a new life can be fun and exciting, even when your a bus!

It is such a sweet story full of positive messages and images for children around play and story telling. I adored the way it takes the children and the bus on a story of discovery and how it ended in such a positive way. So many children’s books are dark and chilling, not always suitable for young readers, but what they will find here, is a story about childhood being fun.  It made me laugh, smile and longing for the simple pleasure of playing on such a beautiful bus as Daisy Daydream.

A simple and positive story, I think it will appeal to young children, sitting cuddled up with their parent and as a first independent reading book.

You can purchase this book from

Amazon UK




Barnes and Noble

You can also enter a Giveaway to Win 1 x Paperback copy of Daisy Daydreams bus rhymes and joke book (UK Only) by following this LINK.

Daisy - Giveaway Prize

*Terms and Conditions –UK 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 

Daisy Daydream Author

I am a teacher and an author and have currently written six children’s picture books with a bus theme.
For over 20 years, alongside my teaching career, I worked with a Children’s Charity, The Bewbush Playbus Association, which led me to write a photographic history book about it.
I soon found that many children had never been on a bus before, let alone a ‘Playbus’ and they wanted to know more. I decided to write a fictional tale about the bus, his number plate JJK261 gave him his name.
‘Jay-Jay the Supersonic Bus,’ came out in print in 2014. It is the story behind the original bus and is his journey from a scrap-yard to being changed into a playbus for children to play in. From Fact to fiction the bus journey continued.
This story has now been followed by five more picture books.
I also undertake events and author bookings and love to share the story. There are also a few more stories in the writing process, with links to real events and buses.
The story has been read in many schools in the south-East of England, where I teach as a cover teacher, it is always well received and certainly different.

You can follow the author on her website

She can also be followed on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

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Blog Tour ~ Review ~ Poetry To Feed My Woodland Bones by Kate Garrett.


Kate Garrett’s poetry chapbook takes us on a magical journey of self doubt, rejection, and uncertainty, through darkness and ultimately to a place where she takes back her agency and the mastery of her own fate.


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

I don’t claim to always understand poetry, but I have a passion to keep learning, so I was delighted to be offered the chance to review this collection. For me it is important that a poem speaks to me as a reader and all the stunning poems by Kate Garrett certainly did!

I loved them all, especially the deeply moving, This Mortal Coil, which took me back to the loss of family members from quite an early age. I often struggle to give a voice to my sense of loss, but this poet has with great power, gentle words and imagery built a picture and that has given a voice to long supressed emotions.

before their vacant spaces

[of static spark, of echo-hollow]

Make your solid shape unbearable

What greater compliment to pay a poet, than to say you have with a few lines summed up the loss of those long past, but who still linger with us when we look at an empty chair or any vacant space they once filled with laughter and love.

Although This Mortal Coil connected with me the most, all the poems have an equal emotional impact. They sparkle with an understanding of all those events that shape us, parenthood, birth, loss and life at its most effervescent.

I would like to thank Kate Garrett for writing such a wonderful collection of poems, full of wisdom and images, which will stay with me for a long time. They are all rooted in the beauty of a language that dates back to Shakespeare’s creative wonder Puck. Given life by a poet of great talent and vision.

You can purchase this collection of Poetry from Amazon

​About the author

Kate Garrett is a writer, mum, editor, witch, horror fan, history buff, and amateur folklorist, among other things, who changes her hair colour more often than some people change their underpants…

Her poetry and flash fiction have been widely published online and in print, and she is the author of several books. Her recent poetry pamphlets include You’ve never seen a doomsday like it (Indigo Dreams Publishing, June 2017), Losing interest in the sound of petrichor (The Black Light Engine Room Press, January 2018), and Land and Sea and Turning (CWP Collective/Dark Particle Press, August 2018).

Her first full-length poetry collection, The saint of milk and flames, was published by Rhythm & Bones Press in April 2019. And her seventh chapbook To Feed My Woodland Bones [A Changeling’s Tale] will be published in September 2019 by Animal Heart Press.

Kate has a BA (Hons) in Creative Writing (first class honours) from Sheffield Hallam University, and plans to do an MA in history or heritage (and possibly a PhD in folklore studies) once her babies are a little older.

Kate’s poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and The Density of Salt was longlisted for best pamphlet in the Saboteur Awards 2016. She is the founding editor of several journals +/or presses. 

She is a married mother of five human children and one cat-child, and lives in Sheffield, where she walks the winding rivers and always inhabits a between place in her heart.

You can learn more about Kate Garrett on her website and follow her on Twitter @mskateybell



Review ~ Blog Tour ~ Dead Inside by Noelle Holton.


‘Hugely confident … harrowing, visceral … recommended’ Ian Rankin

‘Kept me hooked’ Angela Marsons

‘An excellent read’ Martina Cole

‘Gritty, dark and chilling’ Mel Sherratt

A dark and gripping debut crime novel – the first in a stunning series – from a huge new talent.

The killer is just getting started…

When three wife beaters are themselves found beaten to death, DC Maggie Jamieson knows she is facing her toughest case yet.

The police suspect that Probation Officer Lucy Sherwood – who is connected to all three victims – is hiding a dark secret. Then a fourth domestic abuser is brutally murdered.

And he is Lucy’s husband.

Now the police are running out of time, but can Maggie really believe her friend Lucy is a cold-blooded killer?


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

What can I say about Dead Inside, other than it is a superb debut from book blogger and publicist Noelle Holton. Well now, she can add author to that list with a capital A.

The book is dark and gripping, full of oodles of tension, virtually impossible to put down once you start reading. I suppose it is a cliché to say a thriller is addictive and electrifying, but frankly it is true, especially with this page turner.

Much of this is because of the subject matter dark and full of violence, but without a dam good storyline, a thriller would fall flat. No worries in this case, I was both thrilled, shocked and full of dread. Not at the fate of the victims, Holten in a superb masterstroke make them so despicable that I actually felt their deaths were deserved. I know that sounds bad, but she made me hate them enough to feel dread, not for them but for Lucy, someone I liked straight away, who I didn’t want to end being guilty of such cold blooded deaths. She was the underdog that gave this thriller the human connection, the person you invest your hopes in. What made it so compelling, was the feeling it created in me, a need to know that I had not misjudged her, though I will leave it to you to discover if I had or not. I loved the way she was made to feel fearful not just for herself, but for others, it made me admire her bravery and her latent strength.

The pacing is strong, the writer balancing furious moments of violence, with quiet flashes of anxiety inducing normality, that are almost worse, because you’re waiting for the next moment of dread. In this way she keeps you on the edge of your seat, unable to get all comfy, to fidgety to take your eyes of the story as it unfolds.

A book that involves domestic abuse is a delicate balancing act, especially in a thriller, where the story can sometimes be overwhelmed by relentless thrill seeking. But Noelle Holten not only writes a first class thriller, she gives those characters affected by the abuse, a voice and never allows their actions to be lost in the story. She makes us understand them as people and not just victims. She paints their attackers are controlling and violent and explores their reactions to the coercive and threatening relationships that wreck their lives. The grittiness comes from the way the story doesn’t paint them as passive victims, they are much more complex than that, angry, venerable and chaotic. These are real damaged individual and that what gives this thriller both its emotional complexity and what makes you feel so conflicted. Like me, you may not agree with violence, but Noel Holton, will make you understand why someone is killing these men and why part of you almost wishes the killer is not brought to justice.

A superb read. I look forward to book two.

About the author


Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and a regular reviewer on the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast. Noelle worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of cases including those involving serious domestic abuse. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, author-stalking and sharing the #booklove via her blog.
Dead Inside is her debut novel with Killer Reads/Harper Collins UK and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.
You can connect with Noelle on ~

Review ~ Blog Tour ~The Fault by Kitty Sewell.

The Fault - cover

Chilling thriller set on Gibraltar – at the heart of The Rock are secret tunnels, hard to navigate and even harder to escape. Sebastian is a civil engineering prodigy and his latest project is his most ambitious to date: to build a new city on the sheerest face of The Rock. His fiancee, Eva, a diver, is entranced by the penisula’s hidden depths and concerned that her lover doesn’t push himself beyond human limits in his desire to see his dream realised. Mimi, still in her teens, is desperate to spread her wings and chafing at the limits placed on her movements by her overprotective older brother. When Mimi gets into a relationship with a neighbour intent on fighting the new development, Sebastian’s precarious mental health spirals out of control putting them all in danger. When Mimi is lost amidst their twists and turns the race is on to find her before the water rises.I


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

This is a book that is filled with layers of tension, characters who trick you into trusting them and then wham, your left reeling when you realise you have been fooled. I can’t say I liked the main character Sebastian his manic, grandeur nature, made him feel too chaotic to connect with, but his depiction is superb. As his past is slowly revealed, the way his spiralling mental health is depicted, made me as a reader quite both weary of him, but also fascinated by the depiction of his manic episodes. It is really clever and gives the book a sense of unresolved danger that haunts all the characters. It was the character of Mimi, troubled teen, who balanced out the story, giving it a sense of normality, stopping the story from tipping over into overplayed drama. l loved both her determination and bravery.

The story itself is has the right balance of drama and character development. I loved the way the story arcs all fell into place and created a sense of impending danger. Although I did guess the ending, the journey getting there was entertaining enough that it didn’t matter. The caverns in and around Gibraltar and their brooding presence really added to the sense of danger.

If you looking for an enjoyable thriller. Then this book should be on your reading list.

You can purchase the book from Amazon UK and US

About the author 

kitty sewell

Kitty Sewell was born in Sweden, and has had four successive nationalities, living in the Canary Islands, Central and South America, Canada, England, Wales and Spain where she now lives in the mountains of Andalucía. She is a successful sculptor, and bestselling author. Her books have been translated into 15 languages and she has been short-listed for the CWA New Blood Dagger Award, the Wales Book of the Year, Winner of the “People’s Choice” BBC Radio Wales Prize, and the Bertelsmann Book Clubs International Book of the Month. She also writes as Kitty Harri. With Honno she has published Ice Trap (2005, later bought by Simon & Schuster) and Hector’s Talent for Miracles (2007) as Kitty Harri.

You can follow the author on

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