Blog Tour: Ribbons In Her Hair by Colette McCormick

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: August 23, 2018

Publisher: Accent Press

Blurb:

Jean seems the perfect wife and mother but she struggles to love her daughters whose material comforts mask emotional neglect.

When the youngest daughter, Susan, brings ‘shame’ on the family, Jean can think of only one response. She has to make the problem disappear. Finding the strength to stand up to her mother for the first time in her life, Susan does the only thing that she can to save her baby. What Susan doesn’t realise is that her mother’s emotional distance hides a dark secret of her own.

Examining the divide between generations, between mothers and daughters, this emotionally charged novel asks whether we can ever truly understand another, however close our ties.

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Ribbons In Her Hair! I have a guest post from the author to share today.

Guest Post:

The inspiration to write ‘Ribbons in Her Hair’ came from a conversation.

I saw a little girl with her hair tied up in a red ribbon and commented to the person that I was with that I remembered when I used to have ribbons in my hair. I said something like, ‘Those were the days.’ My companion, and I don’t want to say anything that might identify them, told me sadly that they’d had never had a ribbon in their hair.

That statement stayed with me and I thought about a little girl who had never had a ribbon in her hair. For me, that simple act represented a bond and I can still remember sitting on a chair as my mother brushed and dressed my hair. In my head, the little girl without the ribbons, became someone who didn’t know what it was like to feel a mother’s love.

I called the girl Susan and she had a story to tell.

I tried to imagine what it would be like to be in a family where your mother doesn’t seem to care if you exist. How would she feel? How might she behave? Then, I started to think about Susan’s mother. I have children of my own and the idea of not hugging them and showing my love for them is very strange to me and I wondered what would make Jean (Susan’s mother) behave the way that she did.

I decided that we needed to hear her side of the story too.

It has been said that my book is about the shame of being an unmarried mother and I suppose that to a certain extent it is, especially in Jean’s case, but for me it’s more about two women who are trying to do the best for their unborn child. They both need to decide whose needs have to be put first. Is it their own or their child’s? The decision they make will shape their adult life and they will both have to live with it and its consequences.

Because of the way that she treated her children I didn’t want to like Jean but when I discovered more about her story I started to sympathise with her. She is as much a product of her upbringing as Susan. She made the only choice she could and when history repeats itself she can only see one way out for her daughter. Is that her fault or society’s?

I tried to show that behind closed doors things are not always as they appear to those on the outside and that even families have secrets from each other.

Review: The Long Revenge by Andrew Barrett @AndrewBarrettUK @Bloodhoundbook

Amazon

Release date: August 15, 2018

Publisher: Bloodhound

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

They say you can always trust a policeman. They are lying.

They lied thirty years ago and they are still lying today.

When a booby-trapped body is discovered in a long-abandoned chapel, CSI Eddie Collins and his team are called to investigate. But when the scene examination goes horribly wrong, Eddie and DI Benson are injured and one of the team killed.

Heartbroken by the death, Eddie is also guilt-ridden. But more than that he is angry. Very angry.

Eddie will stop at nothing to bring the guilty to justice, and will teach them that even when served cold, revenge is a killer dish.  

I’m thrilled to be one of the stops on the blog tour for The Long Revenge today!

Review:

This was my first introduction to Barrett’s work though it’s the fourth book in his Eddie Collins series. I wasn’t bothered by this and never felt like I was missing out on any pertinent information, but I have added the first three books to my ever growing TBR.

Eddie Collins is not a detective like the protagonist in most crime novels, he’s a CSI. I loved this, it made for a really unique and fresh point of view to see things from that perspective instead of a cops perspective. That type of stuff has always been interesting to me and couple that with a character like Collins? Well you’ve got quite a set up. He’s a cheeky guy and very sarcastic, which I adore because sarcasm is my first language. I didn’t always agree with him but I always found him highly entertaining and I especially liked any scenes between him and his father Charles.

The case Collins is working is a series of historical murders which is one of my favorite storylines in crime fiction. I always think the killer must be pretty smug after thirty years have passed and they’re still flying under the radar, until something or someone unearths their darkerst secret.

The pacing was pretty mild to start (but never boring) but the tension was slowly mounting and by the last quarter of the book things really ramped up.Eddie being a CSI means that the reader gets a graphic look at how this profession works and there is also abuse and some violence, but as most of you know by now that doesn’t bother me. Barrett uses some great dark humor that balances out the heavy stuff which I always appreciate and wonderfully lightens the mood just when you need it the most.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Blog Tour: Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: August 1, 2018

Publisher: Lake Union

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Blurb:

A double life with a single purpose: revenge.

Jane’s days at a Midwest insurance company are perfectly ordinary. She blends in well, unremarkably pretty in her floral-print dresses and extra efficient at her low-level job. She’s just the kind of woman middle manager Steven Hepsworth likes—meek, insecure, and willing to defer to a man. No one has any idea who Jane really is. Least of all Steven.

But plain Jane is hiding something. And Steven’s bringing out the worst in her.

Nothing can distract Jane from going straight for his heart: allowing herself to be seduced into Steven’s bed, to insinuate herself into his career and his family, and to expose all his dirty secrets. It’s time for Jane to dig out everything that matters to Steven. So she can take it all away.

Just as he did to her.

This review may seem familiar to you and that’s because I read this last month and loved it show much I had to share my thoughts right away! If you missed it the first time around you get to see it today as part of my stop on the tour with TLC Book Tours 😊

Review:

God you guys, this was such a refreshing read, especially for a psychological thriller. There’s not an unreliable narrator in sight, there are not multiple perspectives and there are zero time jumps. If a book labeled as a psychological thriller doesn’t have all three of those is it even really a psychological thriller? Hahaha, I’m kidding, this definitely is and it consumed me, I freaking loved it.

Jane is unapologetically who she is, and she’s a sociopath on a mission. She wants revenge and Steven is her target and she won’t let anything get in her way. She had one of the best voices I’ve encountered in ages, highly unique, she’s funny in a super dry way, she’s cold, manipulative, calculating and cunning and I loved her. I couldn’t help it, I think it goes back to what I said earlier, she doesn’t apologize for who she is, she’s confident and smart and insightfully self aware. She knows she’s not normal, but she doesn’t care, she’s not trying to change and she only pretends to be someone she really isn’t if it serves a greater purpose.

I totally binge read this, I could not wait to see how things played out and if Jane would be successful in all of her plotting and planning. I had so much fun with this and was rooting for Jane so hard, who knew an emotionless sociopath could be so likable? The ending was also great, very strong, a little surprising and super satisfying.

Jane Doe in three words: Crafty, Interesting and Vengeful.

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Between You and Me by Susan Wiggs

About Between You and Me

Hardcover:368 pages
Publisher:William Morrow (June 26, 2018)

#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs delivers a riveting story that challenges our deepest-held beliefs…

Caught between two worlds, Caleb Stoltz is bound by a deathbed promise to raise his orphaned niece and nephew in Middle Grove, where life revolves around family, farm, faith and long-held suspicions about outsiders. When disaster strikes, Caleb is thrust into an urban environment of high-tech medicine and the relentless rush of modern life.

Dr. Reese Powell is poised to join the medical dynasty of her wealthy, successful parents. Bold, assertive, and quick-thinking, she lives for the addictive rush of saving lives. When a shocking accident brings Caleb Stoltz into her life, Reese is forced to deal with a situation that challenges everything she thinks she knows and ultimately emboldens her to question her most powerful beliefs.

Then one impulsive act brings about a clash of cultures in a tug-of-war that plays out in a courtroom, challenging the very nature of justice and reverberating through generations, straining the fragile threads of faith and family.

Review:

Is anyone else fascinated by the Amish faith and their culture in general? There’s something about their simplistic way of life and strong ties to family and their community that never fails to capture my attention. Naturally, I loved the premise for this, an Amish is family forced to enter the English world when tragedy strikes and their encounter with a young doctor has the power to change all of them forever, doesn’t that sound great?! Spoiler alert, it was amazing!

Wiggs has that uncanny ability to create characters that are so deeply developed that by the end of the book you’re heartbroken to say goodbye to them. Both Reese and Caleb were highly complex and interesting, I was so invested in both of them and curious about how their relationship would evolve and grow. She’s also an incredibly skilled writer, I got some serious Jodi Picoult vibes here, it had that same emotional intensity and caused me to question my own beliefs and values alongside the characters.

This book dealt with some heavy issues and Wiggs explores some hot button topics with a sensitivity and grace that’s admirable. There were also some shocking twists along the way and some light romance, nothing too in your face though, more sweet and subtle than anything else. Fans of Wiggs will devour this and for readers looking for a new author to discover I can highly recommended this book!

Between You and Me in three words: Thought-provoking, Skilled and Deep.

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for my review copy.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Photo by Yvonne Wong

About Susan Wiggs

Susan Wiggs is the author of many beloved bestsellers, including the popular Lakeshore Chronicles series. She has won many awards for her work, including a RITA from Romance Writers of America. Visit her website at http://www.SusanWiggs.com.

Connect with Susan on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Review: Safe Houses by Dan Fesperman #BlogTour

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: July 3, 2018

Publisher: Knopf

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

West Berlin, 1979. Helen Abell oversees the CIA’s network of safe houses, rare havens for field agents and case officers amidst the dangerous milieu of a city in the grips of the Cold War. Helen’s world is upended when, during her routine inspection of an agency property, she overhears a meeting between two people unfamiliar to her speaking a coded language that hints at shadowy realities far beyond her comprehension. Before the day is out, she witnesses a second unauthorized encounter, one that will place her in the sightlines of the most ruthless and powerful man at the agency. Her attempts to expose the dark truths about what she has witnessed will bring about repercussions that reach across decades and continents into the present day, when, in a farm town in Maryland, a young man is arrested for the double murder of his parents, and his sister takes it upon herself to find out why he did it.

I’m so excited to be one of the stops on the blog tour for Safe Houses today!

Review:

As much as I love thrillers the sub genre of espionage thrillers is not one that I read very often, but the premise of Safe Houses captured my attention immediately. I’m a sucker for old mysteries colliding with current happenings and the two timelines here ended up coming together in a powerful and intense way.

This begins in 1979 in Berlin and follows Helen, a woman who organizes safe houses. What I found most interesting about this portion was the portrayal of powerful men during this era and the manner in which they can choose to abuse said power, it read as very accurate and authentic and was an interesting piece of history that engaged me. Helen was a strong woman in her own right, the kind of character that I respected and admired, and a bit daring for her time. The 2014 timeline begins after Helen and her husband are murdered as her daughter strives to find answers never realizing how long ago decisions impacted Helen’s life thirty five years later.

I won’t dive any further into the details of the story as there were several great turns, but I was very impressed by the execution of the plot twists as well as the writing of Fesperman, it was of a high caliber and very polished. Recommended for those who want a different type of thriller and love a strong female lead, lots of action and intensity and a plot that held my attention throughout.

Safe Houses in three words: Gripping, Tense and Smart.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Blog Tour: The Man on the Roof by Michael Stephenson @filmbooksbball #TheManOnTheRoof #TMOTR

Release date: June 22, 2018

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

Someone has been creeping in the dark while the others sleep, and they’ve done terrible, terrible things.

“There was a man on your roof,” claims curmudgeonly lane-hermit Herbert McKinney. Then, he initiates an unprovoked fight with a local punk. Drama escalates when that punk’s dead body is found hanging at mid-street one August morning—a boastful killer messaging their next prey. All fingers point to Herbert as the culprit. Soon, the five couples he calls neighbors come under suspicion, too. When detectives divine blackmail as the motive, eyes cross to find who hides the most shameful secret. Husband versus wife, friend versus friend, the shiny suburban veneer of innocence has been forever tarnished. As hidden deviousness boils from their pores, there lurks a thief, a pill addict and a sadist—secrets worth killing for.

Now, as the man on the roof helps guide justice and watches devious neighbors slip in and out of sleepy houses, confusion and questions persist. Who dies next? What have they learned? Who is becoming a monster? Who already is one? And just how many secrets can a small group of multi-ethnic Ohioans have? Only one cemented truth exists: the killer will kill again.

A taut domestic mystery-suspense thriller, The Man On The Roof propels the reader through a tangled, volatile and suspenseful thicket of deception, murder and friends, inviting the reader to discover the murderer and who hides which lie. First there was Gone Girl. Then there was The Girl on the Train. Now, there’s The Man On The Roof.

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Man on the Roof! I have a guest post from the author to share today.

Guest Post:

The Great Lure of Mystery: Why we’re Enamored with Mysterious People

Eve probably only ate the fruit because she wanted to know what it would taste like, or why it was forbidden. Scientists say that it’s one of the reasons we even began to build tools, and also why we were able to evolve to dominate the world. It’s why we learn, why we ask questions when we look up at the stars and why we sometimes find ourselves eavesdropping conversations of strangers on trains, planes and buses. Curiosity is to the brain what appetite is to the stomach, and it is no better, no easier satiated than by solving a good mystery. But why, out of all the wonderful mysteries in this great big universe, are we most enamored by the one that seems most easily understood: people? That is the great modern curiosity.

“Every one is a mystery, sometimes even unto themselves.” That is the premise on which I based my latest novel The Man On The Roof. A psychological mystery-thriller, The Man On The Roof follows in the footsteps of other recent hits like Gone Girl, In A Dark, Dark Wood, The Girl on the Train and The Woman in the Window, challenging readers to discover who is lying and who has really committed the heinous crime. Here, it is in its simplest form that we find out why we love not only a good mystery but a good mysterious person.

We’ve all heard the saying a woman must maintain an aura of mystery about her when it comes to courting. In other words, ladies can’t share all their secrets with their beau even after marriage. Why? Because he’ll get bored? Is that it? Are we obsessed with mystery simply because it keeps us from being bored. Maybe, but I believe there’s more there.

A good mystery keeps us active, keeps the brain churning, invites us into a world of new experiences. All of those things counter boredom. They also help us to think, learn, desire. When a potential lover maintains a mystery about them, it makes us work and shows us just how interested we are in keeping them. It’s a primitive form of testing our heart. Still, it goes deeper than that.

Mysteries in book form have a set structure. Authors introduce the players, set the stage, give them a puzzle to solve (a murder in the case of The Man On The Roof), then go about deconstructing the way and/or reasoning behind said puzzle. There is a concrete beginning, middle and end. In that way, mysteries supply us with structure to chaos in a world that increasingly seems to have little structure or cause for any effect. These fictional stories allow us to see justice done when in real life real justice is such a fleeting concept. But a psychological mystery-thriller is often different.

A psychological mystery-thriller thrives on the idea of people as mysteries. Instead of always supplying justice, they give us an often bleak look into the mind of the person who committed the crime. One might think that morbid, yet we’ve become engrossed in this genre of mystery now more than ever. Look on TV and you’ll find a glut of true crime stories, mysteries that didn’t always end with the right verdict. These allow us to sit in judgment of those around us, comparing and contrasting our own life to theirs. We can lose ourselves in wondering if we’d do the same as them, in trying to piece together the puzzle of a person.

Speaking of, there’s a feeling of accomplishment that we get from solving mysteries, from learning something new, from putting together the last puzzle. Time drips away at such a fast interval that we often need something to stake within the ground in order to feel as if we aren’t wasting it. During our schooldays we would burst at the seams at having accomplished passing from one grade to the next. There was always something to look forward to. In adulthood, there are not as many milestones. Years can float by where one feels as if they’ve done nothing. Mysteries give us a definite goal to achieve before the novel’s counterpart does. People are similar in that their mystery unfolds to us like a video game. We are able to notch our progress by recalling just how much we’ve been allowed to learn or “solve” about this person. It’s one thing to look out your window and see your newlywed neighbors and think they are happy. It’s an entirely different thing to look out and see her cheating. Level up! You just got a secret achievement.

Ultimately, we are drawn to mysterious people and look forward to the unknown in other humans because they make us feel and do it so effortlessly. We feel accomplished. We feel aroused. We feel a little smarter. We feel a little more accepted. We feel we’ve learned something. We feel a little less bored with our own lives. We feel alive! A person is a most pure mystery because they’re always changing, always challenging, always filled with secrets just waiting to be found out and explored. And in doing such exploration, we discover just as much about ourselves as we do about them. Mysteries, and mysterious people allow us to remember that we are so much more even on days when we think less of ourselves. I believe that everyone is a mystery, sometimes even unto themselves, so it is our duty to go out, have an adventure and discover the secrets we didn’t know we had. But first read The Man On The Roof (tee-hee)!

Check out the other stops on the tour!

Blog Tour: Girlfriend, Interrupted by Patricia Caliskan @Caliskaniverse_ @Saperebooks #GirlInterrupted

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: June 28, 2018

Publisher: Sapere

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Blurb:

What do you do when the love of your life is already somebody else’s dad…?

Brown-eyed, brunette, 25.

Enjoys walking barefoot across shards of broken home. Likes loaded silences, resentment and insomnia. Dislikes romantic weekends, lie-ins and any chance of future happiness.

Former GSOH. Developing PTSD.

Ella Shawe was undomesticated, unattached and uninhibited.

Until she met Dan.

Sexy, charming and funny, Dan ticked all the right boxes and Ella threw herself head-first into the whirlwind romance.

But now she’s moved into his family home, complete with two demanding children and a hyperactive dog.

Throw in Dan’s impossibly perfect ex-wife, Ella’s interfering sex therapist mother and the snooty and dismissive mother-in-law from Hell, and Ella is almost ready to throw in the towel.

But, ready or not, Ella is part of the family now, and getting it right for Dan’s kids means getting it right for everyone. She just needs to figure out how to include herself in the mix…

Girlfriend, Interrupted will have you laughing-out-loud, gasping in embarrassment and rooting for Ella all the way. This British romantic comedy is packed full of humour and has a delightful contemporary heroine at its heart.

I’m so pleased to be one of the stops on the blog tour for Girlfriend, Interrupted, I have an extract from the book to share today!

Chapter One: Capital Punishment

It hadn’t occurred to me that the love of my life would turn out to be somebody else’s dad. If I’d thought about it long enough I’d have realized, the best thing that happened to me ended up being the worst thing that happened to Dan’s kids. Well, at least since the divorce anyway. And, if it was any consolation to them, I got a second-hand romance. It wasn’t exactly the kind of thing you’d look out for in a dating profile:

Brown-eyed, brunette, 26.

Enjoys walking barefoot across shards of broken home.

Likes loaded silences, festering resentment and insomnia.

Dislikes romantic weekends, sexy lie-ins and any chance of future happiness.

Former GSOH. Developing PTSD.

But, as with all great love affairs, it hadn’t started out that way. Those two, very separate worlds had slowly collided. We never really talked about what that meant. I mean, how could a man love you if his children didn’t even like you? You’ve probably already guessed, but that was exactly the question I’d been trying to avoid lately as I made my way into the office Friday morning. Only a few hours ahead of being utterly useless around the children for yet another weekend. Although, I thought, glancing over at reception, it was a far better option than falling in love with somebody else’s husband…

‘I am going to leave her, Karen!’ Harry Collins, Head of Digital, was leaning over the reception desk. ‘I promise I will, but it’s not that easy. I’ve got three children to think —’ He flinched at my footsteps. ‘So, those er … those staples? We’ll need at least another two boxes up there…’

Suddenly scrutinizing her to-do list, Karen-From-Reception, all blow-dry and diamante earrings, rearranged her cardigan. Scribbling everything down with a professionalism bordering on the provocative.

‘And those A5 notebooks, please, like we said.’ He pretended he’d only just noticed me. ‘Not the A4.’ He raised a hand. ‘Ah, morning Ella!’

‘Morning, Karen. Harry…’

The three of us exchanged polite smiles as I carried on towards the stairs, avoiding the lift in case I ended up stuck in there with him.

Steen & Heard Communications was located on the second floor of a listed building on Hanover Street. Sunlight streaked through the blinds as I fixed my jacket onto my chair and opened my first email of the day:

URGENT!

FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION.

ACCOUNT DATA FOR PREVIOUS 12 MONTHS!!!

This was a typical greeting from Heather Constantine, Public Relations Manager extraordinaire. I’d found the best way to deal with her emails was to pretend they were computer-generated by a machine too primitive to know any better. Although, the ‘Read Receipt’ she included on every message was particularly annoying. Especially when she sat close enough to accept my offer of a Smint without leaving her seat.

I glanced over at her, peering behind her bifocals. Her short, sharp, red hair, hinting at her short, sharp disposition. She scrutinised her screen, searching out juicy worms of commission fit for the taking. First thing in the morning, her lack of hello, eye contact, please or thank you, had the same effect as having a jug of iced water poured over your head. In fact, I’d have chosen the ice bucket challenge every time.

Heather Constantine was the reason I dreamt about being sacked the way other people dreamt about winning the lottery.

Initially, I had worked for James Steen (who was really posh and semi-retired, which is what really posh people aged around sixty seemed to do), and his partner, Audrey Heard, as a copywriter. I was initially hired to write press releases, manage website copy, oversee editorial pieces for our clients, that kind of thing. But within weeks, Heather made me into her unofficial personal assistant and psychological punch bag. Nowadays, I took care of her admin, weekly diary and, on one occasion, a furious outbreak of cystitis, rather than becoming some kind of capable business protégé to her wise mentor-figure, the way Audrey seemed to think it worked.

‘Morning, Ella!’

Leah, Office Support, walked in behind Harry. Her neon-painted grin brightened the shadow of Heather, looming permanently over the rest of our day.

‘Morning, Heather…’

The typing continued.

Leah hung up her coat and straightened her skirt.

‘Would you like a cup of tea, Heather?’

Heather glanced at her watch.

‘Ten minutes ago. I trust you’ll be deducting the time from your lunch hour?’

I gave Leah a sympathetic look. Heather classed five-past-nine as unforgivably late. The only time she’d left the office for anything other than a meeting was when she gave birth to her son.

‘Would you like a coffee, Ella?’

‘I’d love one, please.’ I was deliberately perky. I hoped Heather might pick up on more pleasant ways to interact with other human beings. ‘Thanks for asking. Hey, Leah — we made it! No matter what happens, they’ll never take Friday away from us…’

‘Make sure you use my almond milk.’ Heather’s fingernails clawed at high-speed across her keyboard.

Almond milk? I’d never heard of it. I wondered if they made it especially for people like Heather, who must have problems with turning the regular stuff sour.

‘Will do.’ Leah smiled, not wasting another minute. She paused briefly at Harry’s desk to take his order as he fired up multiple screens on the digital bank.

Harry headed up a team of three almost identical lads. They all wore beards, checked shirts and sprayed-on jeans. As far as I knew none of them had any interest in harvesting trees, but you’d’ve sworn they’d just trekked back from an Alaskan Lumberjack convention. Either that or been knitted as a matching set by someone’s well-meaning grandma. I’d tried striking up conversation with them in the past, but they only communicated in instant messages. And, while the rest of us lived on the stuff, none of them drank tea or coffee, even though it was the lingua franca of our offices. Maybe there’d been some sort of technological advancement, I thought. Apple had launched the iRefreshment while the rest of us still stood around, boiling the kettle.

‘Is almond milk good for you?’

Heather caught my eye, standing to unlock her filing cabinet.

‘Well, obviously.’ She inhaled a laugh, combing through an assortment of colour-coded files. ‘I wouldn’t be drinking it if it were bad for me, now would I?’

I wasn’t sure if she was trying to make a joke or not.

I’d never learned to speak fluent Dictator.

‘It’s vegan friendly. Cholesterol and lactose-free. Those things are bad for you,’ she explained as if talking to a three-year-old. ‘So, yes. It is.’

She shut the metal drawer with a thunk!

Heather was vegan? I was surprised. You’d have imagined most vegans being quite nice to the people they worked with, considering they were so kind to animals.

‘Good morning!’

All heads turned as Audrey Steen, lady boss and agency owner, walked in, looking chic as ever. All curled lashes and nude lip gloss. Wearing my favourite outfit of hers, the grey trilby and pastel pink trench combo.

Audrey was utterly fabulous. One of those gorgeous, older ladies who crystal and diamonds cried out for, rustling up timeless glamour every morning.

‘How’s everything going, Heather?’ She cast a brief smile of hello my way. ‘Apollo doing well?’

If we hadn’t already worked out Heather had a messiah complex, she’d humbly named her first-born after a Greek god.

‘He’s doing brilliantly.’

‘Good to hear it. Did I tell you Peter’s wife’s expecting in the next few weeks?’

‘You must be thrilled.’ Heather still managed to look glacial despite the baby talk.

I’d tried mentioning Dan’s kids, Grace and Ethan, to Heather once. She’d looked at me as if I’d been clipping my toenails at my desk. I’d decided to drop the topic indefinitely.

‘We are. We are.’ Audrey smiled. ‘Listen, we really must have that catch-up. I’ve been meaning to put some time aside, see where we’re up to.’

‘Everything’s back on track.’ Heather squinted at Audrey with what I think was meant to be a smile, unless the sun was in her eyes. ‘I’d like to schedule in a meeting with you today if that’s convenient, Audrey? Four o’clock?’

‘Right-o!’ Audrey said. ‘Well, nothing pressing springs to mind…’

‘Ella?’ Heather rearranged her desk. ‘Could you update my diary?’

‘Of course, Heather.’ I wished I could schedule her in for a routine personality transplant while I was at it.

‘And, by the way.’ Audrey took off her hat, running her fingers through her perfect hair. ‘It’s great to have you back, Heather. Oh.’ She glanced at Leah’s desk then looked my way. ‘Have I missed the first brew of the morning?’

‘Coffee?’

‘Please. Do you mind? I’m always in need of a complete transfusion by the end of the week.’

I noticed a faint sneer from Heather as I walked past her desk, possibly because I wasn’t taking IMMEDIATE ACTION on compiling her account data. Instead, I made my way into the staff kitchen and found Leah standing against the counter, mobile in hand.

‘What’s the matter?’

‘I’m fine.’ She put her phone inside her pocket and took a teaspoon from the drawer. Then stopped, eyes flooding. ‘I split up with my boyfriend.’

‘Oh. That’s not good.’

‘But then we got back together.’

‘And that’s bad?’

‘He’s just messaged saying he thinks we should leave it tonight. And.’ She checked her reflection in the mirror. ‘I just can’t handle Heather today. Urgh.’ She wiped inkblots of mascara from the corners of her eyes. ‘I missed the early train, doing my makeup. Now it’s ruined and I’m not even seeing him…’

‘Here.’ I grabbed another cup for Audrey. ‘You go and get yourself fixed up. I’ll finish the drinks.’

‘You sure?’

The kettle clicked to a halt as I busied myself at the counter.

‘Thanks, Ella. Oh.’ She paused on her way to the door. ‘Make sure you use her special milk, whatever you do. Heather’s almond milk’s in there. Bottom shelf. She’s labelled it.’

Of course she has, I thought. Even though everyone else in the office shared the same two-litre carton, it obviously wasn’t good enough for the Constantine constitution. Almond milk. I stared at the weird, peachy liquid. It didn’t look all that bad, but it definitely smelled a bit funny. Sod it. If Heather was going to stress us all out, the least she could do was lower our Cholesterol. I gave us all a free sample.

Back at my desk I found another email lying in wait to sabotage my happiness:

URGENT: FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION.

Re: SUBJECT HEADING.

Re: Previous email: Account data for previous 12 months!!!

I couldn’t help but look over again.

Not a flicker.

Working with Heather was like catching a virus. You started slightly off-colour and ended up wanting to crawl under the covers, slayed by a highly contagious case of her utter misery. I found the files on the system and opened a new document. It was so bad that the thought of meeting mum for lunch formed an emergency raft in my mind that saw me safely through to half-past twelve.

About the Author:

Following a childhood spent writing her first books, most notably, Our Book about Jesus – a self-help guide for fellow young Catholics, and, The Sleepover – a compelling tale of a midnight feast, shockingly intercepted by fictitious parents with badly drawn hands, Patricia Caliskan always liked to play with words.

Patricia first saw her name misspelt in print aged 17, interviewing hungover rock stars and illegible actors for an Arts and Entertainment magazine. After graduating from the University of Liverpool, Patricia joined Trinity Mirror Newsgroup, working as editor across a portfolio of lifestyle magazine titles.

Patricia likes a good pair of boots, wearing perfume with her pyjamas, and laughter. Lots of laughter. Because without it life feels far too grown up for her liking. Told with mischievous humour, Patricia’s stories explore family dynamics, office politics, and the divergent roles of women throughout their lives.

Girlfriend, Interrupted is Patricia’s second novel: her first, Awful by Comparison, will be reissued by Sapere Books this summer.

Review: Death on Dartmoor by B. A. Steadman @berniesteadman @bloodhoundbook

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: June 25, 2018

Publisher: Bloodhound Books

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

Life is good for DI Dan Hellier until the discovery of two headless, handless bodies buried in a bog on Dartmoor. But how can he identify the victims when nobody has reported them missing?

The tension mounts when the death of a young man plunges Hellier into the murky world of the Garrett family. Could the peaceful, family-run Animal Rescue Centre really be a cover for murder and other criminal activity?

Hellier is about to learn just how far people will go to get what they want.

And this investigation will challenge Hellier’s decisions as he races to catch another murderer before it’s too late.

*** Death On Dartmoor was previously published as Death and The Good Son by B.A. Steadman***

Welcome to my stop on the blog blitz for Death on Dartmoor.

Review:

I had such fun reading this one, which is not a word I would usually choose to describe my reading experience when I’m engrossed in a mystery/thriller. However, there was such an endearing quality to this book that really added so much depth and substance to the story that fun is exactly how I have to explain my time with this book.

This is the second book in a series, I didn’t read the first one but I’m regretting that now. It read perfectly well on it’s own though, any pertinent backstory was explained to my satisfaction and I didn’t experience any confusion at all. DI Hellier is the protagonist here and I really warmed to him. He’s sharp, fast on his feet and a quick thinker, all good qualities for a competent DI. The rest of the team was compromised of Sally, Lizzie, Adam, Ben and Bill. All of them have a great sense of camaraderie and are willing to go the extra mile to solve a case. Thank god for that, because they have their work cut out for them when they’re tasked with solving two cases simultaneously. First, two skeletons are found in a bog but they’re missing their heads and hands. Doesn’t get much creepier than that. Meanwhile, a local teenager dies after taking a bad batch of drugs and the team must work quickly to get the dealer off their streets.

Some of my favorite scenes were when Dan and Sally were working the cases together. They have an amazing rapport and they gave me a good laugh when they ribbed each other. Young Adam, the newbie to the team also added some lighthearted moments when he was rather eager to impress his superiors. I so appreciate when authors add humor and warmth to crime novels, it’s such a nice touch and it really breaks things up. There was a perfect balance between Dan’s personal and professional life which really allows the reader to connect with him on a deeper level.

Crime fiction fans looking for a new series have no need to look further, this is an excellent book to lose yourself in. This took quite a few surprising turns and there were some great action scenes that got my heart beating faster. I’ll be anxiously waiting for the next book in the series and I may even try and squeeze the first book into my TBR at some point.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Note by Andrew Barrett @AndrewBarrettUK @BloodhoundBook

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: June 14, 2018

Publisher: Bloodhound Books

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

A thrilling novella introducing Eddie Collins, CSI

Have you ever had that feeling of being watched but when you turn around no ones there?

I have.

It was raining, and I was working a murder scene around midnight when that prickle ran up my spine. If I’d listened to that feeling, if I’d thought back to my past, maybe I could have prevented the terror that was to come.

Back at the office, I found a death threat on my desk.

I had no idea who sent it or why they wanted to kill me.

But I was about to find out.

I’m Eddie Collins, a CSI, and this is my story.

I’m so excited to be one of the stops on the blog blitz for The Note today!

Review:

This is the second book I’ve read by Andrew Barrett, I read Ledston Luck a few months ago and was really impressed. That was the fourth in a series featuring CSI Eddie Collins and I loved his character and the fact that the story was told from a fresh perspective. Andrew Barrett is a CAI himself so the authenticity is outstanding and you know you’re getting a true look at the life of a CSI. The Note is a short story featuring Eddie and it was fun to check in on him again, albeit briefly.

Barrett sure knows how to set a creepy stage, it opens late one evening when Eddie is processing a crime scene and gets that uneasy feeling of being watched, unawares. Then, he finds a note that says he’ll be dead tonight. The atmosphere was really fantastic, late at night, alone in an office then at home, I was paranoid for Eddie’s safety just as much as he was! The chilling cover certainly matched what was inside and had the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end.

As it’s such a short story I don’t want to say anything more about what happens, but Barrett manages to include a few shocking plot twists in a short amount of time. Even though Eddie is scared for most of the story his sarcasm and wit is still there, maybe even more so than usual. Defensive mechanism perhaps? I don’t know, but it always works for me! This is a perfect introduction to a great character, so if you haven’t read any of the books in this series, why not start here?

Review: The Not So Perfect Mother by Kerry Fisher @KerryFSwayne @bookouture

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: June 6, 2018

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Blurb:

From Amazon chart bestseller Kerry Fisher comes a hilarious and straight-talking read for anyone who has ever despaired at the politics of the school playground…

Maia is a cleaner for ladies who lunch. With mops and buckets in tow, she spends her days dashing from house to house clearing up after them, as they rush from one exhausting pilates class to the next.

But an unusual inheritance changes the lives of Maia and her children, as they join the highly exclusive world of Stirling Hall School – a place where no child can survive without organic apricots and no woman goes a week without a manicure.

As Maia and her children try to settle into their new life, Maia is gradually drawn to the one man who can help her family fit in: Mr. Peters, a teacher at Stirling Hall School. But is his interest in her purely professional? And will it win her any favors at the school gate?

The Not So Perfect Mother is a laugh-out-loud-funny and romantic Cinderella story with a twist. Perfect for fans of Emily Giffin, Jennifer Weiner and Sophie Kinsella.

Review:

Oh how I adored this book, it was laugh out loud funny but also had some poignant, emotional moments as well, it really had a little something for everyone and Maia was the perfect heroine for this delightful little read.

We’ve all been down on our luck at some point I imagine, but Maia is having a really difficult time and there’s no end in sight. When one of the women she cleans for passes away and offers her children a scholarship to a posh school that is miles away (social class wise at least) she takes it despite her reservations. Maia doesn’t fit it with the mother’s at Stirling Hall, and she doesn’t actually want to, these women are mostly awful, but she grits her teeth and smiles because she wants what’s best for her kids. That’s one of the qualities I admired about her, she is a fantastic mother who does her best by her children despite getting kicked in the teeth repeatedly. I really liked her character and even though I was shaking my head at some of her decisions, Fisher did create a believable person who makes mistakes and bad choices just like the rest of us.

I said before this was funny but I have to reiterate it again, there were some seriously hilarious scenes that had me rolling. This was a feel good read with heart and soul and had a wonderful ending with some surprises I didn’t predict.

The Not So Perfect Mother in three words: Funny, Relatable and Entertaining.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

About the Author:

Born in Peterborough, UK, Kerry Fisher studied French and Italian at Bath University, followed by several years working as an English teacher in Corsica and Spain before topping the dizzying heights of holiday rep and grape picker in Tuscany. She eventually succumbed to ‘getting a proper job’ and returned to England to study Periodical Journalism at City University. After two years working at Essentials magazine in London, love carried her off to the wilds of the West Pennine moors near Bolton. She now lives in Surrey with her husband (of whisking off to Bolton fame) and two teenagers. She has a very naughty lab/schnauzer called Poppy, which leads to many mortifying moments of whistling and waving pieces of chicken while the dog practises her ‘talk to the tail’.

Kerry spent half her life talking about writing a novel, then several years at Candis magazine reviewing other people’s but it wasn’t until she took some online courses with the UCLA that the dream started to morph into reality when her debut, The School Gate Survival Guide, was picked up by HarperCollins.

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