Morecambe & Vice Crime Writing Festival ~ Interview with author Jennie Finch


The Morecambe & Vice Crime Writing Festival is taking place between Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th of September at the Midlands Hotel in Morecambe. 

Why not take a look  at their website because they have a cracking line-up of events ~

Midland Announce

Welcome to booksaremycwtches Jennie Finch, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions about yourself and your book as part of the Morecambe & Vice Blog Tour.


To start off with, a few questions about you as a writer and your novel.
•1 What inspired to become a writer?
I have always wanted to tell stories and began to write them down – albeit with very bad spelling – from an early age. It helped me make sense of the world and place myself somewhere I felt in control. My mother kept my first real offering, written when I was eight, and I found it when going through her scrap book recently. I’ve attached it for your amusement!
•2 What was the inspiration for your book?
I took a module on writing detective and mystery stories for my MA and the tutor told us to begin with a strong setting. The setting, she said, should be a character in the story. I lived in Somerset for 5 years in the 1980s and found the Levels beautiful, evocative and rather creepy, especially at night. They seemed perfect as a starting point and the characters and plots grew from this. I have some experience of working alongside probation officers from this time too so I had a good foundation for the books.
•3 If your book were to be made into a movie, who would you like to play the main characters?
There was some debate about this amongst my friends. Several thought Amelia Fox should play Alex but I see her as more hesitant and less physically neat. My choice would be Anna Maxwell Martin. Pam Ferris would be perfect for Ada and maybe Freddie Highmore for the hapless Kevin. I was tempted by Philip Glenister for Derek but I decided to keep him in reserve for the next few books and cast him as Tom from “The Drowners” onwards!
Bloggers and writers

•4 There has been a huge amount of debate within the blogging community about posting reviews of books they have not liked! Do you read book reviews and how do you feel about the idea of bad review?
I do read reviews but try to keep in mind they are always subjective to some extent. I think it is important to know what people think about the books. After all, I want them to keep reading! I have also agreed with a number of comments people have made and I think this can help me become a better writer.
•5 In a time where more and more authors are self publishing, do you think that bloggers and authors working together have the power to influence the success of a book? To give a voice to smaller publishing houses and emerging talent, that don’t have big publicity budgets to work with?
I think they are vital. There are so many books (especially self-published books) now and it is very hard to be noticed outside of the few big publishing houses. This is especially true when the major sellers only stock the “top 100 bestsellers”. I would include the wonderful work done by Independent book shops in this as they can give a space and opportunity to a new or local writer.
•6 Who is your favourite author to read?
My absolute favourite is the American sci-fi writer Sheri S Tepper. I have everything she ever wrote, even obscure short stories and books written under another name and re-read them regularly. They never disappoint.
•7 Just because I’m curious about other people’s reading tastes, what is your favourite under-appreciated novel?
When I was 13 my family moved to a new town with a much bigger library – the only good thing about the whole event for me. I discovered a book by Sheila Grahame called “Things have gone to Pieces” and borrowed it at least once a month for years. It is a little strange and a little depressing (perfect for a lonely teenager) but I found it very comforting in an odd way. I was so happy to find a copy in Barter Books several years ago.
•8 If you could be a character in a book, which would you choose?
I think I’d like to be one of the Dragon Riders from Anne McCaffrey’s “Pern” series, just so I could fly.
About you
•9. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I spend some time looking after our four dogs. One is very old and needs careful walking and a lot of company.
I have always enjoyed jigsaw puzzles. My mother started me on them when I was young as a way of developing my spatial skills and visual memory, though she probably didn’t articulate it quite like that. I find I do some of my best “deep thinking” whilst doing a jigsaw and often solve writing problems without meaning to.
My guilty pleasure is playing computer games, especially simulations such as the Civilization series. I’m not a fan of battle games and actually get car sick playing driving sims. I need something with a narrative.

•10 Finally….

Cwtch is the welsh word for a hug. It’s about snuggling and cuddling. It has elements of loving and protecting. It can also a safe place in a room or in the hearts of those that care about you and whom you care about. It can be an embrace shared between a parent and a child or lover’s . You can also give a non-romantic cwtch, a heartfelt hug to a friend or someone who simply needs to be comforted.
Who would you want to share a cwtch with? Doesn’t have to be a celebrity if you don’t want it to be!
My immediate choice would be my wonderful partner without whom I would not be the writer I am today. But also –
I would like to share a cwtch with my cousin, Aroha, in New Zealand. When I found my “missing” family she welcomed me in, shared her life and made me feel like a real member of the family. She’s had a hard year so far so maybe a cwtch would make her feel better.

MV 2019 Banner


About Jennie Finch


I did not expect to be a crime writer. Although I have always read a lot of crime and detective novels I always thought my work leaned more towards science fiction or horror so no-one was more surprised than I when “Death of the Elver Man” was short-listed for the Impress Prize in 2010 under its original (and rather insipid) title “On the Level”. Since its publication I have been working on the series which now consists of “The Drowners”, (published in January 2013), “The Mothman” (September 2014) and “Smoke and Adders” (September 2016). I am exploring the idea of writing some shorter, stand-alone stories based around specific characters from the novels. Ada Mallory will probably feature in the first but if there are specific people you would like to read about, please visit my web page and leave a request.

Whilst I was never a probation officer like Alex I do live with an ex-probation officer and in the 1980s did a lot of work with offenders and young people at risk. I used to teach psychology for the Open University and still assess and tutor students and young people with learning difficulties.

A note about the setting.
The Somerset I write about is in many ways a lost world. It is the place I remember rather fondly from my time there and though geographically it is as accurate as I can make it, a lot has changed in the past 20 years or so. Some changes are for the better – areas of the Levels themselves are now rich sites for wildlife and rare plants and the industries on these precious lands are far more aware and responsible than in the past. The mix of people living in the towns has changed however and new hazards such as the flood last November (2011) may alter the fabric of the area once again.
The Carnival is still a major feature of life in the towns and if you have the opportunity go and see it for yourself. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

You follow the author on

Add a little bit of body text (1)-2.png

Review – Death Of The Elver Man by Jennie Finch. #BlogTour #Morecamb&Vice #CrimeWritingFestival


Probation officer Alex Hastings is struggling with the customs, dialect and prejudice she faces as an incomer to the Somerset Levels. When one of her probationers, Kevin Mallory, is charged with murdering the Elver Man , who operated in the poaching underworld, she is embroiled in the investigation. Determined to prove Mallory is innocent, Alex puts her own career at risk as she searches for the truth behind the Elver Man s death, but her efforts attract the attention of the real killer. Alex finds herself drawn into a web of family feuds, gang loyalties and revenge killings as an unknown predator stalks her across the eerie landscape of the Levels. This is a stunning debut by a new force in crime fiction and the first in a quartet of Alex Hastings novels.


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

There are a few reasons I enjoyed this book.

The story felt original and fresh. Most murder mysteries feature police officers as their primary characters, but Jennie Finch gave us a story based around over worked and harassed Probation officer Alex Hastings! I loved being taken into the world of a character willing to risk her career to help a man she is convinced did not kill the Elver Man of the title. It felt fascinating to see the work of this part of the criminal justice system, whose work was the backdrop for the story. There is a lot to be said for originality, it gives the book an edge, a difference that reels you in and leaves you wanting to spend more time with the complex and often frustrated Hastings.

The atmosphere was tense and filled with moments of suspense and surprise. Amidst gang led crime and feuds I felt quite worried for Alex and her colleagues.  It felt real that she could get caught up in this mess. New to the job, she wants to prove to her colleagues she can hack the constant pressure and therefore puts herself in danger. She is naïve and angry, often unsociable, but highly idealistic, she felt so real. Right from the beginning we know she wants to prove to her boss she can do the job and that’s why her desperation to help her charges, felt so realistic and it led to a connection with her and her story. The writer helped us to understand her greatest fear was failure and made me care that that she did not become another victim of a deranged killer. I will leave you to find out if she did, but throughout the novel, I felt constantly anxious about her fate. There is one scene in which she is alone with a ‘client’ in a secluded cottage that had me a bag of nerves, so thick was the tension and sense of menace.

It is well written by an author that really understands how to make the landscape it is set in another character in the story. I have never been to the Somerset Levels, but as I read the book, I felt I could have been. The sense of isolation created was a massive part of why the book worked so well.  The small community at the heart of the story and the dramatic landscape that surround it, all added to the sense of remoteness from help and safety. The concealment of past mistakes and feuds, amplified by this brooding and threatening landscape the story is set in.

Apart from Alex there are many other fascinating characters, but I wanted to say a massive thank you for giving us the portrayal of a prison officer, who is intelligent,  proactive and kind. It is such a change from the usual portrayal of thuggish men, who are just caretakers and not great ones at that. It made the book extra special that for once, there was a positive portrait of a unfairly maligned part of the justice system.

Will it stay with me for a while. Indeed it will. I loved the story and all the characters who seemed as much a part of the landscape as the players in the mystery around the Death of the Elver Man. It had all the elements of a great thriller, but it’s originality marked it out as a really enjoyable and exciting.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon

MV 2019 Banner

The Morecambe & Vice Crime Writing Festival is taking place between Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th of September at the Midlands Hotel in Morecambe.
Why not take a look at their website because they have a cracking line-up of events ~

Midland Announce

About the author 


I did not expect to be a crime writer. Although I have always read a lot of crime and detective novels I always thought my work leaned more towards science fiction or horror so no-one was more surprised than I when “Death of the Elver Man” was short-listed for the Impress Prize in 2010 under its original (and rather insipid) title “On the Level”. Since its publication I have been working on the series which now consists of “The Drowners”, (published in January 2013), “The Mothman” (September 2014) and “Smoke and Adders” (September 2016). I am exploring the idea of writing some shorter, stand-alone stories based around specific characters from the novels. Ada Mallory will probably feature in the first but if there are specific people you would like to read about, please visit my web page and leave a request.

Whilst I was never a probation officer like Alex I do live with an ex-probation officer and in the 1980s did a lot of work with offenders and young people at risk. I used to teach psychology for the Open University and still assess and tutor students and young people with learning difficulties.

You can follow the author at

Add a little bit of body text (1)-2


Blog Tour ~ Review ~ Dead Flowers by Nicola Monaghan.


Hardened by ten years on the murder squad, DNA analyst Doctor Sian Love has seen it all. So when she finds human remains in the basement of her new home, she knows the drill.

Except this time it’s different. This time, it’s personal…

A page-turning cold case investigation, Dead Flowers is an intriguing, multi-layered story perfect for fans of Kate Atkinson’s Case Histories and British crime dramas like Line of Duty and Unforgotten.

Shortlisted for the UEA Crime Fiction Award 2019


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

I really really enjoyed this book. It made me jump, it made me shriek out loud in more than one place and it kept me on the edge of my metaphorical reading chair from page one to the final page.  In a thriller, you want to be thrilled and you certainly are when reading Dead Flowers.  Nicola Monaghan has created an atmosphere full of menace, you feel constantly that at any moment, something unbearable could happen to Sian. Your reading like crazy to reach the end, to find out if the peril she finds herself in, will destroy all she holds dear.

Doctor Sian Love used to be a detective, so having left the police disillusioned, she decides to take action to solve the mystery of why two bodies have been hidden away in her basement herself. What makes this extra gripping is the way the writer has made this story personal to Sian on more than one level. She gives her protagonist a personal connection to the events themselves and that what I really loved about this book. Not only is it well written, but I found myself rooting for Sian, who had the most to lose, and in making me invest so much in her, the writer created an emotional connection that had my nerves on edge. I felt almost bruised by the end, so buffeted was I by the constant fear she might become a victim herself.

I was absolutely hooked. The images of the bodies in the basement still make me shudder and it is one of the best thrillers I’ve read this year. Not only would I recommend it, I think its going to feature heavily in the Christmas gifts I buy for friends this year.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon

About the author 

Nicola Monaghan

Nicola Monaghan was born in Nottingham in 1971, and grew up there on a number of different council estates. She studied Mathematics at the University of York, and went on to work as a teacher, and then in finance. She has lived in London, Paris and Chicago, but moved back to her home town in 2002 to study Creative Writing at Nottingham Trent. She has since written several novels and novellas, as well as scripts for short films. Her first book, The Killing Jar, won a Betty Trask Award, the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Prize, the Waverton Good Read, and was selected for the New Blood Panel at Harrogate in 2007. She was the first fellow of the National Academy of Writing, based at Birmingham City University, and now teaches creative writing at De Montfort University. More recently, she studied crime writing at the University of East Anglia, where she wrote Dead Flowers, which was shortlisted for the UEA/Little Brown Prize. She lives in Nottingham with her husband, son, two dogs and – the real boss of the household – a cat called Dream Tiger.

You can follow the author on Twitter



Review – Blog Tour – The Jeweller by Caryl Lewis.

the jeweller cover

Mari supplements her modest trade as a market stall holder with the wares she acquires from clearing the houses of the dead. She lives alone in a tiny cottage by the shore, apart from a monkey that she keeps in a cage, surrounding herself with the lives of others, combing through letters she has gleaned, putting up photographs of strangers on her small mantelpiece.
But Mari is looking for something beyond saleable goods for her stall. As she works on cutting a perfect emerald, she inches closer to a discovery that will transform her life and throw her relationships with old friends into relief. To move forward she must shed her life of things past and start again. How she does so is both surprising and shocking…


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

Honno Press is rapidly becoming one of my favourite independent publishers, not just because they publish female Welsh writers that otherwise might not be published, but because the novels they bring us are stunning pieces of literature.

As is the case with The Jeweller, a beautifully written tale of Mari, whose troubled past has left her wounded and vulnerable.

The things that mark this novel out as exceptional are the characterisation, the story and the glorious writing, which created images in my mind of intense beauty and tenderly wrought emotion.

This is not a book for me primarily about events, it is a tale of human frailty and our ability to rise above all the memories that shape our past, to create a future full of possibilities. Each sentence evokes moments of intense beauty and the language has the lyrical musicality of a song in written form, which floating off the page creates haunting images both fleeting and tender, yet also shocking and unforgettable.  Caryl Lewis’s writing is fresh, free from the need to create stories of grandiose events, and able with great skill, to write a story where the tale, the thoughts and feelings of her character Mari, become the bedrock of the story and not its afterthought.

I have always thought that buildings and objects retain an imprint of those that have been part of their history and to see this used with splendid effect in The Jeweller was my very favourite part of this novel.  Mari acts like a custodian of items left behind by those that have died, letters, photographs and jewellery. In hiding from her own pain, she seeks to understand the life imbued into these objects by those that once owned them, searching for a connection to her own origins. Yet perversely it is this inability to live in the present, typified by burying herself in the memories of others, that presents the possibility of moving forward.

Mari as a character is a delicious and  carefully wrought study of a woman caught up in a maelstrom of memories that haunt her. She is vulnerable and wounded, but to pigeon hole her as such, for me fails to see below the surface of the complex characterisation, to a women capable of shocking and surprising me. Caryl Lewis has written a character that challenged me as a reader, not to assume I knew all of her, until the last word was written, until the story had reached its end. I think she is one of the best female characters I have read about in many years. Taking the journey with Mari as she made discoveries with the power to transform her life was intense and rewarding. It’s a shame it’s over for me and I feel a fierce jealously of those yet to meet her. Mari, like the objects  imbued with the essence of those that owned them, has become part of my reading journey.

Special mention must go to Gwen Davies who with great skill has translated this story into English.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon

The Jeweller by Caryl Lewis (translated by Gwen Davies) is published by Honno Welsh Women’s Press on 19 September 2019 at £8.99

About the author


Caryl Lewis has published eleven Welsh-language books for adults, three novels for young adults and thirteen children’s books. Her novel Martha, Jac a Sianco (Y Lolfa, 2004), won Wales Book of the Year in 2005. Caryl wrote the script for a film based on Martha, Jac a Sianco, which won the Atlantis Prize at the 2009 Moondance Festival. Her television credits include adapting Welsh-language scripts for the acclaimed crime series Y Gwyll / Hinterland.

About the translator


Gwen Davies grew up in a Welsh-speaking family in West Yorkshire. She has translated into English the Welsh-language novels of Caryl Lewis, published as Martha, Jack and Shanco (Parthian, 2007) and The Jeweller and is co-translator, with the author, of Robin Llywelyn’s novel, published as White Star by Parthian in 2003. She is the editor of Sing, Sorrow, Sorrow: Dark and Chilling Tales (Seren, 2010). Gwen has edited the literary journal, New Welsh Review, since 2011. She lives in Aberystwyth with her family.



Review – Blog Tour – In The Absence of Miracles by Michael J Malone.

In The Absence of Miracles Final Jacket

John Docherty’s mother has just been taken into a nursing home following a massive stroke and she’s unlikely to be able to live independently again.
With no other option than to sell the family home, John sets about packing up everything in the house. In sifting through the detritus of his family’s past he’s forced to revisit, and revise his childhood.
For in a box, in the attic, he finds undeniable truth that he had a brother who disappeared when he himself was only a toddler. A brother no one ever mentioned. A brother he knew absolutely nothing about. A discovery that sets John on a journey from which he may never recover. For sometimes in that space where memory should reside there is nothing but silence, smoke and ash. And in the absence of truth, in the absence of a miracle, we turn to prayer. And to violence.
Shocking, chilling and heartbreakingly emotive, In the Absence of Miracles is domestic noir at its most powerful, and a sensitively wrought portrait of a family whose shameful lies hide the very darkest of secrets.

‘Beautiful, lyrical prose takes the reader through a perfectly constructed, often harrowing tale’ Denzil Meyrick

‘Engrossing, hard-hitting – even shocking – with a light poetic frosting. Another superb read!’ Douglas Skelton

‘A chilling tale of secrets, lies and the ultimate betrayal’ Theresa Talbot

‘Emotional. Brave. Dark. Raw. Utterly beautiful’ Louise Beech


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

It is an unsurmountable fact, that I have come to expect extraordinary things from Orenda authors. Original and challenging storylines, clever and intelligent writing.

So with each of their books that I read, I get a little nervous! Will it live up to all of this?

Well Mr Malone you have, In The Absence of Miracles, is a touching and haunting tale of a family riven by disturbing secrets. It deals with the deeply disturbing effect abuse has on it’s victims, yet it does so with sensitivity and with an honesty that refuses to let the silence win.

The writer takes a challenging storyline and delivers it with extraordinary skill. In my very humble opinion, it is one of the finest examples of domestic noir to grace any bookshelf.

The story centres around John Doherty who when clearing out his mother’s home ready for sale finds a shoe, setting off a terrifying journey to find a brother he could not remember.  What makes this such an emotive and compulsive read, is the way the writer takes us on a exploration of the minds staggering ability to hide memories behind a barricade. Once breached it leaves John facing emotional and physical collapse. Ultimately it leads us and him to a new reality, that will either free him or consume him.

Beyond this theme of abuse, the writer delivers a top notch domestic noir, because he roots the story in layers and layers of mystery.  Like the mirror and smoke effect, he reveals tantalising clues to the story behind the brothers disappearance. But then its like the smoke descends and your forced to wait, excruciatingly painful as that is, until he once again allows you to glimpse into the mirror and a view into the past. He gives us characters who have composed a life based on lies. As in life the unravelling of these lies has casualties, but the writer leaves you in no doubt, that though evil can lie behind any door, in any street, there is always a chance that the walls they build around them, can crash down as fast as they were built.

It was not an easy read, subject matters such as this never are. Michael Malone writes with such respect, while still delivering a hard hitting drama, that reading it remains a privilege. It will stay with me for a long time and for all the right reasons. It is a devastating exploration of abuse, yet still an exciting story of discovery, secrets and lies.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon and Waterstones.


About the author 

thumbnail_Michael Malone

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings.Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call; A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage; The Bad Samaritanand Dog Fight. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spinesand After He Died soon followed suit. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller. Michael lives in Ayr.

You can follow the author on Twitter

In The Absence of Miracles BT Poster

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

An Echo of Scandal Cover -2

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
An Echo of Scandal BT Poster -2


Guest Post ~ Blog Tour ~ Two Tides To Turn by R R Gall. #ANewWritingDay #ThisIsMe

Two Tides To Turn Cover

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 –

Two Tides To Turn Full Tour



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

The Last Landlady Cover

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.

The Last Landlady Graphic 1


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.

The Last Landlady BT Poster


Review – Blog Tour – Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson

Blood Song Final Jacket

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.

River Of Bodies Final Cover

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

River of Bodies Graphic 4

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

FINAL A River of Bodies BT Poster