Review: Forever a Hero by Linda Lael Miller 


Goodreads|Amazon
Release date: March 21, 2017

Publisher: HQN

Genre: Contemporary Romance 

Blurb: 

For the youngest Carson brother, finding—and fixing—trouble seems to be all in a day’s work 


Mace Carson is no hero. Back in college, he came upon a woman in trouble and intervened—but he was just one irate Wyoming cowboy with his boots planted firmly on the side of right. Now a successful vintner, Mace is shocked to be reunited with the woman he saved. But it turns out she’s in Wyoming on business…a corporate executive representing the company that wants to buy his winery. Only, he’s not selling. 


Kelly Wright has never forgotten that horrible night ten years ago when Mace came to her rescue, has never forgotten him. The surprising success of a winery in the middle of ranch country has brought her to Mustang Creek, and she’s secretly thrilled to discover Mace at the helm. Reluctant to mix business with pleasure, Kelly vows to keep things professional, until her attacker is released from prison and comes for vengeance…against both of them.


Review: 

So back when I was in middle/high school I used to read a lot of romance novels, the cheesier the better. I know, so clichéd, right? As I got older my tastes matured and mysteries and thrillers took over and I tend to mostly grab a romantic comedy if I’m looking for something on the lighter side. When the lovely Claire at Little Bird Publicity asked if I wanted to review Forever a Hero I was immediately nostalgic and figured that reading a straightforward romance novel may be fun for a change. 

This is definitely a good old fashioned romance complete with a cowboy. Admittedly I’m a sucker for a good looking man in a cowboy hat (has anyone else been watching the new season of DWTS? Bonner is swoon worthy) and though parts of this were pretty cheesy, Lael Miller is a talented writer even if the plot was pretty typical. 

This is the third book in a series, each one follows one of the Carson brothers who live in the picturesque town of Mustang Creek, Wyoming. Mace Carson runs a winery, which is another point in the authors favor for me because I’m an even bigger sucker for a great bottle of wine. Kelly is a successful business woman and the company she works for sends her to visit Mace’s winery because they want to purchase it. He saved her from an attacker ten years ago and I’m sure you can guess what I’m about to say next, but he’s out of prison and out for revenge. 

The plot itself was pretty predictable but the characters made up for it, plus everyone once and awhile it’s nice to know what to expect. The Carson family is large, rowdy and friendly and the town they live in is the same. Kelly and Mace had an easy banter and this was a quick and fun read for me. I doubt I’ll ever go back to reading straight up romance novels all the time anytime soon, but this was a nice change of pace and an enjoyable read. 

Overall rating: 3/5

Thanks to Claire at Little Bird Publicity for my review copy. 

About the Author: 


The daughter of a town marshal, Linda Lael Miller is a #1 New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than 100 historical and contemporary novels, most of which reflect her love of the West. Raised in Northport, Washington, Linda pursued her wanderlust, living in London and Arizona and traveling the world before returning to the state of her birth to settle down on a horse property outside Spokane.


Linda traces the birth of her writing career to the day when a Northport teacher told her that the stories she was writing were good, that she just might have a future in writing. Later, when she decided to write novels, she endured her share of rejection before she sold Fletcher’s Woman in 1983 to Pocket Books. Since then, Linda has successfully published historicals, contemporaries, paranormals, mysteries and thrillers before coming home, in a literal sense, and concentrating on novels with a Western flavor. For her devotion to her craft, the Romance Writers of America awarded her their prestigious Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.


Hallmark Movie Channel is developing a series based on Linda’s Big Sky Country novels. Her latest book, Forever a Hero, a March 21, 2017 HQN Books release, is the third in her Carsons of Mustang Creek series. Her first mainstream Civil War novel will be published in May 2018.


Dedicated to helping others, “The First Lady of the West” personally financed fifteen years of her Linda Lael Miller Scholarships for Women, which she awarded to women 25 years and older who were seeking to improve their lot in life through education. She anticipates that her next charitable endeavors will benefit four-legged critters.


Blog Tour: Don’t Stop Me Now by Colleen Coleman @CollColemanAuth @Bookouture


Goodreads|Amazon US|Amazon UK
Release date: March 22, 2017

Publisher: Bookouture 

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Blurb: 

Poppy Bloom has a Life Plan: PhD in psychology, research job at her university, and a life of domestic bliss with handsome boyfriend Gregory. 


But then she finishes her PhD with no job offer, no relationship, and nowhere to live. Being unemployed and living back at her mum’s house in her vampire-themed childhood bedroom was definitely not the plan. 


Poppy is back to square one and miserable, so when she runs into childhood friend Leanne she jumps at the opportunity to catch up. The chance to run into Leanne’s gorgeous brother Tom is just a bonus… 


Soon Poppy’s scored an internship at a radio station, a boyfriend, and a whole netball team of friends: things are on the up. 


But life has a way of tripping you up when you least expect it, and Poppy soon has to decide where her priorities lie… With new friends, a new career and a new romance, can Poppy keep everyone happy, or is everything about to tumble down around her? 

Review: 

I’m so pleased to be a stop on the blog tour for Don’t Stop Me Now! 


What a delightful little surprise this book was! I shouldn’t be shocked, Bookouture have never disappointed me before, but when I say I was surprised I mean that this book had an altogether different vibe and overall message than I was expecting, in a very positive and lovely way!

Poppy was such an endearing character, she’s highly intelligent, a total type A personality, and really relatable. Even though she’s extremely smart, she’s not one of those people who is arrogant with it, she’s rather warm and approachable. She’s had her entire life mapped out for years,  but on the day of her graduation, her perfect plans start to fall apart at the seams.  Her boyfriend dumps her for her best friend, she loses her potential (and highly sought after) job, and finds herself almost thirty and living back at home. But instead of wallowing in self pity and binging Netflix and eating Ben & Jerry’s (like many chick lit heroines so often do) she decides to take the opportunity to try some new things and take some risks that may have a huge payoff for her in the end. 

This was such an empowering read! Poppy has the BEST attitude, she was so brave in the face of adversity. She had several setbacks and she would allow herself to be upset for a short period of time, but then she would brush herself off and get back in the game. She tried new things, she let go of her fears, and she ended up learning so much about herself and having plenty of adventures along the way. While there is a bit of romance present it wasn’t heavily featured or the main storyline and I found that refreshing that Poppy focused more on herself and her own life than solely on a man. Yes, love and romance is important to her but it’s not the end all and be all of everything. 

The message was so powerful, it’s about having self confidence and believing in what you can achieve. I think everyone could benefit from hearing that sort of thing from time to time and it made me feel unstoppable and inspired in the end. A portion of the books sales will be donated to mental health charities that help young people and I found that so touching, I think it says so much about the author as a person. 

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to Bookouture for my review copy. 

About the Author: 


Colleen Coleman is an Irish-Canadian novelist. She is the winner of the much-coveted Novelicious Undiscovered People’s Choice Award launched to find the next ‘chick-lit star’. She spent over ten years working as a teacher of English and Philosophy before finally taking a deep breath, scrunching her eyes shut, putting her pen to paper and vowing not to lift it again until she wrote the words The End. As a result, her first novel was born. Colleen lives between London, Ireland and Cyprus with her very patient husband and very, very chatty twin daughters. Don’t Stop Me Now is her first book and will be released in March. 

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Blog Tour: Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski @ConcreteKraken @OrendaBooks 


Goodreads|Amazon US|Amazon UK
Release date: March 15, 2017

Publisher: Orenda Books 

Genre: Crime Fiction 

Blurb: 

The novel is constructed as a series of podcasts, in which an investigative journalist describes the circumstances around the death of a teenaged boy in an outward-bound centre, interviewing witnesses, suspects and people close to the incident. Their six accounts form the six stories of the title, creating a “chilling and compelling, page-turning thriller that also delves deep into notions of truth, perception and loyalty”.

I’m ecstatic to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for Six Stories today! 


Orenda Books has a knack for publishing unique, fresh books under the umbrella of crime fiction and once again, I’m completely blown away by one of their books. Six Stories is a wholly original, modern twist on a classic murder mystery. There are six distinct stories, six very easily distinguishable voices used in this podcast style book. Tom Jeffries was fifteen when he disappeared in 1996 and his body was found a year later. Twenty years later and Scott King, a podcast host decides to feature the story on his podcast.  What happened the night he disappeared? Why did it take a year for his body to be discovered? And most importantly, who killed him? 

The format of this book really made it standout from the crowd for me. I loved the conversational style it provided, it really felt like I was listening to a true crime podcast. Wesolowski did a phenomenal job of giving each character a clear, unique voice and I couldn’t help but think the audiobook version of this must be superb. As my husband isn’t a reader I’m thinking we need to listen to it together, but I digress. As each podcast comes to a close, more truth is revealed, but more questions also arise. Who is actually reliable and trustworthy? Seeing as how the events in question occurred twenty years ago, everyone’s recollections are hazy at best making it all the more complicated to put all the puzzle pieces together. Everyone interviewed by King is directly involved in the case and they all add a new twist to things, leaving you to draw your own conclusions as to what to believe, or not to believe. As the layers are slowly peeled back, secrets are unveiled that finally shed light on what truly happened. 

This was an unsettling read, one that makes you feel like evil is lurking just around the corner, that leaves a pit of uneasiness in your stomach. Scarclaw Fell was hauntingly atmospheric and a ideal setting for such a tragic event. The whole thing was brilliantly, cleverly executed and a highly immersive read. You could feel the chill in the air, hear the sounds of the forest, see glimpses of the unknown skulking about. The ending was utterly perfect, I really can’t find fault with any aspect of this one and I’m praying that Wesolowski is currently working on his next book. 

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to Karen at Orenda Books for my review copy. 

Blog Tour: The Burden of Truth by Peter Best @BloodhoundBook


Goodreads|Amazon US|Amazon U
Release date: March 23, 2017

Publisher: Bloodhound Books 

Genre: Thriller

Blurb: 

About the book

Egocentric Brent Sandler knows he needs to change his life for the better. He’s hit rock bottom, penniless and in deep trouble as he discovers an awful tragedy lying in wait. The problem is, he knows this tragedy is all down to him and his past actions. Now he’s determined to put things right as the consequences of these actions are rapidly making their mark. 


Meanwhile in Bodhgaya India, Peter Cannon has just made a shocking discovery that will change his life forever. Like Brent, he must come to terms with his guilt. But his past, his secret and the woman he loves are slowly hunting him down.


And if they find him, questions will be asked.


The tale of The Burden of Truth is a suspenseful thriller of how these two men are pulled apart and then drawn together as each man tries to fulfil his own quest for happiness. But they are soon to find out this quest is thwart with love, as well as danger, and both are lurking just around the corner.

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Burden of Truth. I have an extract from the prologue to share. If you follow the tour, check out Baatty About Books stop on the 28th for a peek at the first chapter.


Extract: 

Prologue


January 1932. Buddhist Monastery of Ayratara, India


Diakana heaved a massive sigh when he slowly removed his dark red Buddhist robe from his shoulders. Always mindful, he folded it carefully, before laying it onto an old wooden chair at the bottom of his bed, the same bed that hardly moved a millimetre as he sat his slight frame on the mattress.


Tired, he rubbed his thumb and index finger of his right hand along the top of his nose, massaging it gently, trying unsuccessfully to free the migraine now forming in his brain. He gently moved his hands backwards towards the temples of his freshly shaven head, pressing the tips of his fingers ever so gently into his skin, moving them in small circular motions, trying his hardest to smooth away his pain.


Hiten, his boy servant, had just taken away the bowl of hot soapy water. Diakana almost wondered if he had noticed the redness caused by the cuts on his forehead, or the everyday shaking of his hands, which had become a common occurrence.


‘Master, is there anything else you require?’


‘No, thank you,’ Diakana answered in his customary slow, soft voice, which, tonight, was no more than a whisper.


‘You have done more than your duty for today. Please, let me rest.’


‘Then, I will wish you goodnight.’ With that, Hiten closed the heavy oak door of the bedroom behind him, quite fearful of his master’s health.


Diakana waited patiently until the soft sheen of light at the bottom of his door extinguished, telling him Hiten had at last blown out the remaining candles in the annex to his quarters. Now safe in the knowledge he was alone, he reached for his fire lighter, and after many attempts to calm his mind, and his hand, he managed to light the solitary candle on his bedside cabinet.


He turned once more towards the door of his bedroom; he sensed and heard nothing. Only now had he the confidence to move towards his personal shrine set in the corner of the room.


He stared, with little expression on his face, as he always did, and commenced reflecting on the events of the day. He thought deeply, as he reached behind a brass figure of the Buddha and retrieved a small but very ornate wooden box.


His vision, like his health, was failing him in his ageing years. He held the box close to his squinting eyes, then closer still, trying hard to focus, struggling to find some sort of clarity; it was useless in the dim light of the single candle.


Slowly, he walked to his window, pushed open the wooden shutters, and gazed towards the starry night sky. Many nights, over many years, he had stood on this very spot, looking towards the cosmos, reflecting on its many secrets.


He thought long and hard when he looked out towards the night sky, but tonight, it was different.


Tonight, there were no thoughts about the universe, or anything similar. Tonight, he had only one thought on his mind—about one of the wisest men he was ever likely to meet. The same wise man he had met that very morning.


However, as wise as he may have been, one would not have been criticised for calling him mad. Mad, because, for approximately the last fifty years or so, he had worn nothing but white clay and ash to cover his skin. He’d never washed or put a comb to his hair; he had never needed to. And, if this man ever had a name,the sound of it would not have been uttered in decades.


No words were said when the Holy Yogi handed Diakana the box. It was more his demeanour and expression in his eyes that told him what he was holding in his hands was of great importance.


This troubled Diakana. Over many years, he had travelled to many corners of India and beyond, just as the Buddha did all those years ago, to teach the lessons of the Dharma. He had seen many of these so-called wise men. He knew from his look he was a Yogi from Northern India, perhaps even Nepal. This, itself, had puzzled the old monk. Why, why had this man travelled over half of India, and taken many years to search for me? Why am


I so important to this man?


Diakana was indeed mystified, as once again, he tried to study the small ornate box. Something was not right, but he did not know what it was that made him think this way. Everything should be clear in his mind.


He had solved the puzzle of the box, and its contents, that very afternoon. But, there it was again—doubt.


Something was still not right; something was still missing.


He lit two more candles on his shrine, bringing an extra glow to the dimness of the sanctuary of his bedroom. Once again, he tried to focus on the complex box, bringing it again close to his eyes. The extra glow of candlelight helped, as he tried to reconstruct what he had achieved earlier in the day.


His mind, peaceful, focussed on the job in hand. He succeeded in slowing it to a point where he could calm his hands. Over seventy years of meditation practise proved to be his greatest of allies, as, not for the first time in his life, mind over matter played its part.


He gripped the box gently, and slowly steadied his fingers around the base of the box. His thumb moved exactly the way it did earlier in the day, feeling the indentations of the carvings on its sides.


His hands again started to shake. He tried another time to calm his mind, but there they were, once more, thoughts, puzzling thoughts, nagging in his head.


There is more, I am sure of it. I am sure, there must be more.


Diakana slowly moved again towards the window. This time, his eyes did not fail him. This time he was sure he saw him. The Holy Yogi he met this very day was standing like a statue in the centre of the courtyard below, staring upwards at him, his piercing eyes looking straight at his.


Diakana turned away from his fearful stare, and slowly walked back to his shrine in the corner of the room. He placed the ornate box very gently at the feet of the Buddha figure, then sat back on his meditation cushions. Carefully, he pulled his legs towards his body in such a way as not to cause pain to his aching limbs.


He winced as he tried to manipulate his body into the lotus position, the same position he had used longer than he could remember to sit and meditate.


This time, he did not meditate; he only wanted to get right in his head his thoughts of today. He carried on thinking about the Holy Yogi.


What was he telling me? he said to himself repeatedly.


And then, it hit him, it hit him hard.


‘That is it!’ He opened his eyes wide. ‘That’s what’s missing!’


He gasped to take a breath of air as he reached out again to the small wooden box sitting majestically at the feet of his shrine.


His hand never reached the box as the shock of his findings reverberated around his body. His body went tight, as the fear hit him—the fear he had not done enough in this life. The tightness of his chest gripped tighter, and never let go, as slowly, his failing sight turned to blackness. He knew, at this very moment, what was happening.

About the Author: 
Peter Best was born in North Shields in the North East of England in the beginning of the sixties. Albeit the son of a shipyard worker, Peter was brought up in a mining community until the age of eight when for some reason or another somebody made the decision that the community should be uprooted and moved to a place called Cramlington New Town on the outskirts of Newcastle.
After his time in school he served an apprenticeship working mainly on building sites working as an electrician, which he hated by the way! However, as Peter always looks on the positive side of things, he was pleased he did, as it was on these building sites where he came across many different characters who he was pleased to call his friends. “Real people,” he called them. And so it turned out that many of these so called real people, and others of course, featured quite strongly in his novels.
Of course it was not just the people he met on the sites; Peter has over the years come across many different characters on his travels who have all played their part in working their way into his mind.
In 1996 he married for the second time to a young German girl and soon after moved to the south of England. Soon after that he upped sticks again and moved to Wiesbaden in Germany to help support his wife as she pushed at her career as a doctor.
Peter feel in love with the culture of his new surroundings, especially the culture of one of his neighbouring counties Bavaria. However as they say all good things come to an end and he moved back to England. It was at this time when his writing started to come together. Over the next few years Peter started to string together his thoughts and ideas for The Burden of Truth and its sequel. (The name remains a secret for now.)
He now lives with his wife and daughter in a small seaside town in Essex called Frinton on Sea. Frinton, along with its neighbouring town, Walton on the Naze, both feature in his novel, The Burden of Truth.

Review: The Last Chance Matinee by Mariah Stewart @GalleryBooks


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Release date: March 21, 2017

Publisher: Gallery Books

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Blurb: 

From New York Times bestselling author Mariah Stewart comes the first novel in her all-new series, The Hudson Sisters, following a trio of reluctant sisters as they set out to fulfill their father’s dying wish. In the process, they find not only themselves, but the father they only thought they knew.


When celebrated and respected agent Fritz Hudson passes away, he leaves a trail of Hollywood glory in his wake—and two separate families who never knew the other existed. Allie and Des Hudson are products of Fritz’s first marriage to Honora, a beautiful but troubled starlet whose life ended in a tragic overdose. Meanwhile, Fritz was falling in love on the Delaware Bay with New Age hippie Susa Pratt—they had a daughter together, Cara, and while Fritz loved Susa with everything he had, he never quite managed to tell her or Cara about his West Coast family.


Now Fritz is gone, and the three sisters are brought together under strange circumstances: there’s a large inheritance to be had that could save Allie from her ever-deepening debt following a disastrous divorce, allow Des to open a rescue shelter for abused and wounded animals, and give Cara a fresh start after her husband left her for her best friend—but only if the sisters upend their lives and work together to restore an old, decrepit theater that was Fritz’s obsession growing up in his small hometown in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. Guided by Fritz’s closest friend and longtime attorney, Pete Wheeler, the sisters come together—whether they like it or not—to turn their father’s dream into a reality, and might just come away with far more than they bargained for.

Review: 

The inspiration behind this novel fascinated me, so I thought I would share the preface of the book before my thoughts. 

Everyone is familiar with the adage “write what you know”; it’s a saying that has dictated much of my decades-long career in publishing. But this time, it was what I (or rather, my mother) didn’t know that formed the basis for this first book in my new Hudson Sisters series.

 

When my mother was in her mid-forties, she received a letter from a woman named Alice, the wife of her recently deceased cousin Bill. Alice thanked my mother for the sympathy card she’d sent her, and finished her note by saying, “You do know that Bill was your half brother, right?”

 

Ah, no. She did not.

 

…Of course, I was fascinated. My grandfather died when I was four or five years old, and I have very little memory of him other than his deep, hearty laugh. I’ve been thinking for years that this foundation of a love child and secret siblings would make a great story; but not knowing all the facts, I was free to fill in the blanks—and so I did. Years passed before I felt I had the right story in my head. This is that story. I hope you enjoy my version of what could happen under such circumstances.

 

—Mariah Stewart

Crazy, right?! When Last Chance Matinee begins, we’re introduced to three very different women; sisters Allie and Des and Cara. Allie and Des have no idea Cara exists and Cara wasn’t aware that her father had another family either. When their father, Fritz dies, the women are all present at the reading of his will. Pretty compelling way to start a book, and when they’re told the only way to receive their inheritance is to move to Hidden Falls and renovate an old family theater, to say they’re shocked, angry, and blindsided is a huge understatement. 

Cara is recovering from a divorce, her husband Drew cheated with one of her bridesmaids and is now engaged and expecting his first child. Ouch. Her mother, Susa is also gone having passed a few years ago. Susa and Cara live in New Jersey and his other family lived in California. Cara has no idea if her mother was aware her father was already married to another woman and she’ll probably never know. Allie and Des have a strained relationship and rarely speak to each other. Their mother, Honora is also deceased so the opportunity to move back to their fathers hometown may be the only chance for the women to unlock old family mysteries. 

This is the first in a new series and it sounds like each book will mainly focus on one sister, but the other two will still play a heavy role in the plot. This one is Cara’s story and she was an endearing character. She’s a free spirit and very loving, once the initial shock of her fathers betrayal wears off, she’s excited to get to know the sisters she never knew existed. She bonds with Des fairly easily, and she was another character that I quickly warmed to. Allie is a bit trickier, she’s also divorced and pretty bitter, and she has secrets of her own. Though she was pretty cold and standoffish, I was still completely interested in who she was. Aunt Barney was Fritz’s estranged sister and she was probably my favorite character of the bunch. She’s the town matriarch and seems like a really good person, and she has a pretty sparkling personality to boot. Nikki is Allie’s teenaged daughter and she breathed so much life into the story, she’s a vibrant and excitable kid. 

I’m a sucker for family secrets and though there are still definitely some secrets waiting to be unearthed, Stewart revealed enough about the Hudson family to capture my attention. The town of Hidden Falls is a character unto itself and had so much magic and old school charm. There was a real sense of a simpler way of life, a throwback to the good old days. The Sugarhouse is the family theater the women have to restore and the descriptive writing was so rich and vivid, it sounds amazingly gorgeous. This is the perfect, solid start to a new series, Stewart really lays the groundwork for so many possible storylines, there is a ton to be explore. I can’t wait for the second book, it will be told from Des perspective and I’m eager to see what the Hudson family will get up to next. 

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to Gallery Books for my review copy. 

About the Author: 


Mariah Stewart is an award-winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of numerous novels as well as several novellas and short stories. She lives with her husband and two rambunctious rescue dogs amid the rolling hills of Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she savors county life and tends her gardens while she works on her next novel. Visit her at mariahstewart.com and follow her on Facebook.com/AuthorMariahStewart and on Instagram @mariah_stewart_books.


Blog Tour: The Lost Children by Helen Phifer @helenphifer1 @bookouture


Goodreads|Amazon US|Amazon UK
Release date: March 24, 2017

Publisher: Bookouture 

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb: 

Lizzy pulled the covers over her head. Then she realised what was being dragged behind the person with the torch. She rammed her fist into her mouth to stop herself from screaming…


For decades, The Moore Asylum was home to the forgotten children of Brooklyn Bay. But ever since a scandal forced its closure, the abandoned building has cast an imposing shadow. Until now – when an elderly man is found dead, his body strapped to an ancient gurney… 


Detective Lucy Harwin, still reeling from a previous case that ended in the devastating murder of a mother and her child, finds herself on the trail of a killer ruthlessly fixated on avenging the asylum’s wrongs. 


What disturbing secrets lie within the asylum’s walls? Together with her partner Detective Mattie Jackson, Lucy begins to unearth its terrible history, and the horrors endured by the vulnerable children.


As the attacks escalate and a woman is murdered on her own doorstep, Lucy is forced into a terrifying game of cat and mouse with a twisted individual. But can Lucy stop a murderer with nothing left to lose? 

Review: 

Happy publication day to Helen! I’m so excited to be kicking off the blog tour for The Lost Children. 


This one opens with a dark, sinister prologue that instantly reels you in. It’s 1975 and there are children locked up in an asylum and things are happening that will make your hair stand on end. We then flip to present day and are introduced to Lucy, a DI who is assigned to solve a murder case where the victims body was found inside the old, forgotten asylum. Except there’s one person who never forgot the horrors that occurred there, and they want their revenge and will stop at nothing to get it. 

Any good, appealing new crime series needs a solid, relatable protagonist and Lucy fits the bill to a tee. She’s freshly back on the job after a rough case forced her to take leave, and she’s immediately thrust into action as the bodies begin to pile up. Her partner, Mattie is a bit younger than her, and they balance each other out perfectly. Their chemistry was amazing and their was a real authenticity to both their personas and their work. Lucy is divorced and has a teenaged daughter, Ellie and their relationship was accurate as Ellie is a typical angsty young woman. 

The scenes inside the asylum were very atmospheric, you could feel the malice and tension dripping from the pages. Phifer also shared a few brief chapters from the killer and those really added something dark and menacing. This person is boastful and has no remorse, very chilling stuff. While the case itself was interesting enough, I felt the strong point of this book was that it laid a fantastic foundation for this promising series in terms of characterization. I truly feel like I got to know Lucy, Mattie and the rest of the team which just makes me all the more keen to see what happens to them next. 

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to Bookouture for my review copy. 

About the Author: 


Helen Phifer’s love of reading began with Enid Blyton, before progressing on to Laura Ingals Wilder and scaring herself with Steven King. If she can’t write for any particular reason she finds herself getting itchy fingers and really irritable. She loves reading as much as writing and is also very fond of chocolate, Prosecco, The Lake District, New York, white Zinfandel wine, my children and grandchildren, my friends, porn star martini cocktails, Stephen King, watching scary films, Marilyn Monroe, Melissa McCarthy, Idris Elba, Simon Baker, Spandau Ballet, The Munsters and coffee. In no particular order.

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Blogger Guilt 

I’ve been meaning to write a discussion post since January and I’ve been too snowed under with review copies to squeeze one in, but after seeing several threads on social media about blogger guilt, I figured it was the right time to actually take the time to write down some of the thoughts running through my head! 

Guilt seems to be a common feeling for many book bloggers, for a wide variety of reasons. Honestly, any of us feeling bad about things is ridiculous, we have nothing to feel badly about. It’s time for us to collectively let those feelings go and be proud of what we do and remember that we all do this for the love of books.

Let’s talk about the reasons that we feel guilty. We have enormous, overwhelming TBR piles that are being added to daily. It’s a constant struggle to stay on top of things, I know I’m always juggling things around if I’m offered a review copy of a book that just sounds too good to pass up. There are never enough hours in the day, I don’t know that I’ll ever feel like I’m caught up and I’m confident I’m not alone there. So back to my first reason for guilt, you didn’t review a book in the timeframe that you had hoped you would. Now you feel bad, you know the author was counting on you for a review, and again, there just aren’t enough hours in the day! Let’s be real here, we’re not curing cancer, no lives will be lost if we don’t post a review on publication day. I’m a firm believer that a review will help a book gain exposure no matter if it’s two years past release date. Does prerelease hype help sales? Sure, but stressing out because life got busy and you can’t possibly get it done on time isn’t productive. Get to it when you can, I’m quite sure that most authors are very understanding people and will be grateful for a review when you are able. At least that’s been my personal experience. 

There were several conversations on Facebook about book bloggers feeling guilty about not always having the time to share others posts and that branched off into not having the time to thank everyone that does share individually. When I first wake up, I’m overwhelmed with notifications. Emails, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc have blown up while I was sleeping. This is especially true if I’m participating in a U.K. blog tour as I schedule them to go live at 2 am my time so it’s morning there. I’m not complaining, I appreciate each and every person that takes the time to share my posts, but there is so much to catch up on! I spend at least an hour while my son eats breakfast going through notifications, then sharing everyone else’s posts, then sharing on Facebook groups, THEN posting the reviews on Netgalley, Amazon, Goodreads, etc. After that I respond to emails, which speaking of that, I used to respond to every single review request I received even if I wasn’t interested. I don’t have the time or the patience for that anymore. I’ve been closed to new review requests since January and if I get an email where I can clearly see that the sender didn’t even bother to read my policy, I just delete and move on. Let me get to my point before this turns into my first novel 😂 If I like a post that you graciously shared, I hope you know that means I’m extremely thankful. I just don’t have the time anymore to thank individually, and please don’t feel like you must thank me either, it’s not necessary. I know you appreciate it. I need to spend every single spare second actually reading if I have any shred of hope of catching up on Mount TBR. 

I’m going to stop yapping for now, but I want to end by saying that if you’re ever feeling guilty about blog related things, please don’t! We are not paid for this, we all have life’s outside of blogging and we all do our best. This is supposed to be fun and not something that makes us feel upset or guilty. 

Can you relate to blogger guilt? If so, what makes you feel guilty? 
(I have so much more to say, but I didn’t want to bore you all to tears so I’ll save that for a part two on this subject) 

Review: A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys @MsTamarCohen


Goodreads|Amazon UK
Release date: March 23, 2017

Publisher: Doubleday

Genre: Historical Fiction

Blurb: 

Sparkling cocktails, poisonous secrets …

1939, Europe on the brink of war. Lily Shepherd leaves England on an ocean liner for Australia, escaping her life of drudgery for new horizons. She is instantly seduced by the world onboard: cocktails, black-tie balls and beautiful sunsets. Suddenly, Lily finds herself mingling with people who would otherwise never give her the time of day.


But soon she realizes her glamorous new friends are not what they seem. The rich and hedonistic Max and Eliza Campbell, mysterious and flirtatious Edward, and fascist George are all running away from tragedy and scandal even greater than her own. 


By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and life will never be the same again. 

Review:

Since the new year I’ve been branching out and reading genres that I normally haven’t paid attention to in the past, and historical fiction is one that I mostly ignored. I’m ashamed of that now as I’m beginning to realize I was truly missing out and it’s safe to say that I’m now a certified fan of the genre! There is something mesmerizing about being transported not only to a different place, but also a different era. A Dangerous Crossing swept me away to 1939 with a young English woman named Lily as she embarks on a long journey to Australia to begin a new chapter in her life.

Rhys was inspired to write this when she discovered an old diary written by a woman who had a similar journey to her main character, Lily. Though this is a fictional account, it’s loosely based on real events which is all the more captivating to me. It opens with one of those intriguing prologues where you know there has been a murder, then you are whisked back a few weeks prior where you learn about the events that lead to such tragedy.

Lily is heading to Australia to work as the government is allowing young women to travel at a discounted rate in order to  obtain jobs once there. She quickly meets a rather broad, lively bunch of people, many of whom she would not ever cross paths with in her everyday life. There is Helena and her brother Edward, Eliza and her husband Max, and George a man traveling alone. Eliza and Max are especially eccentric and glamorous and the allure of hanging around with such sophisticated people intoxicates Lily. But everyone seems to be running from something in their past, and the entire group is shrouded in mystery.

Rhys used beautiful and highly detailed narrative descriptions as they made their way across the ocean, I really felt like I was there at times. The scenery depicted was breathtaking and awe inspiring, it was truly brought to life by the author. The times where the passengers were stuck at sea for days on end were equally as expressive and I could feel their boredom, isolation and sense of being trapped. The plot moved along steadily and by the time I came to the end, I was rather sad it was over. The ending was shocking and unexpected leaving me wholly satisfied, what a fantastic reading experience.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to Alison Barrow for my review copy.

Blog Tour: Mystery at Maplemead Castle by Kitty French @KFrenchBooks @bookouture


Goodreads|Amazon US|Amazon UK
Release date: March 17, 2017

Publisher: Bookouture 

Genre: Chick Lit, Cozy Mystery 

Blurb: 

Welcome to Chapelwick, a leafy English town in the hills of Shropshire, where chocolate pecan cookies come with a helping of sabotage.


Maplemead Castle is crawling with ghosts, and the new owners need them gone. When Melody Bittersweet and the Girls’ Ghostbusting Agency arrive on scene, they quickly identify the troublemakers swinging from the chandeliers… literally. 


A century ago, stunning trapeze artist Britannia Lovell plunged to her death, and has done every night since. But did she really just fall, or was there something more to her demise?


Forced to work with Leo Dark, her scoundrel ex, and infuriating, irresistible reporter Fletcher Gunn, Melody’s investigative powers are under strain (i.e. lost in a pink mist of lust and confusion). She needs her team on top form, but best friend Marina’s cake pipeline goes AWOL, assistant Artie’s distracted by a giant sausage roll, and the pug is scared witless by a lion.


Somewhere, hidden in the castle, is a heart-breaking secret, but what will it take to find it? And is there a chance it could set Britannia free, or is she doomed to repeat her last fateful act forever?

Review: 

Ahhhh I am SO excited to be one of the stops on the blog tour for Mystery at Maplemead Castle today! This series is quickly becoming one of my favorites, I think I may have liked this one a tiny bit more than the first book, and I really liked that one as well! My review for the first book can be found here


Melody and crew feel like old friends at this point, and I was so pleased to be aquatinted with them again. Not much has changed since the first book, Melody is still a sugar addict who daydreams of sexy superheroes, Marina is still a vixen in stilettos, Artie is still slowly gaining confidence and may be ready to dip his toes into the dating pool, and Silvana and Dicey are still up to their old tricks. This time around the Girls Ghostbusting Agency is tasked with clearing a gorgeous castle of its lingering spirits and things are seriously complicated. Leo Dark is also underfoot and Fletcher Gunn is writing yet another piece for the newspaper. One ex boyfriend and one potential new love interest for Melody is overwhelming enough, but a ghostly love triangle, with the terrifying bonus of a lion is enough to push sweet Melody over the edge.

I can’t get over how hilarious this was! I laughed even harder than I did during the first book, at one point I was crying with laughter, full blown hysterics. There is an over abundance of witty, snarky banter between all of the characters, but when Marina and Melody go off on a tangent, I lose it. They get naughty, sassy and are downright incorrigible but I love every minute of it. Fletch played a large presence in this one and the heat between him and Melody was awesome! Their banter was amazing as well, their chemistry is sizzling and the way he manages to make Melody tangle herself in verbal knots is beyond funny. I think I’ll chuckle to myself anytime I hear/see the word rhubarb. 

I now know that I can only start a Kitty French book when I have nothing else to do because I hate having to put it down. For such a quirky, fun loving read, there were some heartfelt and tender moments, I swear this series has it all. This book was an utter delight and I can’t wait for the next one. I dare you to read this without cracking a smile, I’m still smiling and giggling hours after finishing. 

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to Bookouture for my review copy. 

About the Author: 


Kitty French lives in the Black Country with her husband, two young sons and two crazy cats. She’s a lover of all things romantic – songs, music, and most of all, books. Her USA Today best-selling Lucien Knight series topped the erotic chart on both sides of the pond, and she also writes romantic comedy as Kat French for Avon, HarperCollins. 


She’s over the moon to join Bookouture with her brand new paranormal romantic comedy series, Melody Bittersweet and the Girls Ghostbusting Agency.

Website

Blog Tour: Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead by Owen Mullen @owenmullen6 @Bloodhoundbook


Goodreads|Amazon US|Amazon UK
Release date: March 21, 2017

Publisher: Bloodhound Books 

Genre: Crime Fiction 

Blurb: 

Gavin Law was a whistleblower.

Now he’s missing.

Just another case for Glasgow PI, Charlie Cameron, until he discovers there is more to Law and his disappearance than anyone imagined.

Wallace Maitland, the surgeon responsible for leaving a woman brain-damaged may have abandoned his sacred oath and become a killer. Did the hospital which refused to accept responsibility for the tragedy have Law silenced permanently? Or, with his wife little more than a vegetable, has David Cooper, believing he has been betrayed yet again, taken justice into his own hands?

Charlie comes to realise the world of medicine can be a dangerous place.

Across the city, East End gangster, Sean Rafferty is preparing to exploit the already corrupt city council in a multi-million pound leisure development known as Riverside. The project will be good for Glasgow. But not everybody is keen to work with Rafferty.  

With more than money at stake, Sean will do anything to get his way. His motto, borrowed from his old man, is simple. Never take a no from somebody who can give you a yes.

If that means murder, then so be it.

Charlie has crossed Rafferty’s path before and lived to tell the tale.

He may not be so lucky a second time. 

Review: 

Happy publication day to Owen Mullen, I’m thrilled to be kicking off the blog tour for Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead


This is book three in the Charlie Cameron series and I wouldn’t recommend reading it as a standalone because at this point there is some pretty deep character development at play and you would also be missing out on a great series! One of my favorite things about this series is that Charlie is a PI and not a detective which while being unique, it’s also fun because he’s not restricted by the same rules and regulations as a police officer and he has the freedom to take on cases of his choosing. He also can toe the line more and follow his gut instincts which keeps things fresh and exciting. 

I spoke of character development earlier and while there are always more layers to Charlie’s character being revealed, this time you learn more about Charlie’s police contact and friend, Andrew Geddes. Diving into his background and seeing what drives him was really interesting and following along with him as he works a case was also a new treat. When two separate cases that both men are working on collide, things really start to get sticky and compelling. 

I’ve really grown to love and appreciate Mullen’s use of dry wit and humor in his writing, it breaks things up and always causes me to smirk. Charlie is such a likable guy to me and though I always enjoy following along as he tries to solve a case and find a missing person, seeing what he does in terms of his romantic and personal life is also a draw. There is a little bit of that in this book and I can’t wait to see what comes of that. The Rafferty’s are also back, and that only means trouble for Charlie and things were left wide open, the epilogue especially intrigued me, I’ll be impatiently awaiting book four! 

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to Bloodhound Books for my review copy. 

About the Author: 


When he was ten, Owen Mullen won a short story competition and didn’t write anything else for almost forty years. In between he graduated from Strathclyde University with a Masters in Tourism and a degree in Marketing, moved to London and worked as a rock musician, session singer and songwriter, and had a hit record in Japan with a band he refuses to name; on occasion he still performs. He returned to Scotland to run a management consultancy and a marketing agency. He is an Arsenal supporter and a serious foodie. A gregarious recluse, he and his wife, Christine, split their time between Glasgow – where the Charlie Cameron books are set – and their villa in the Greek Islands.