Watch Over Me by Jane Renshaw

4 Stars from me

Well if this isn’t the sweariest book I’ll read this year then I’ll eat my f***ing hat hen.

Packed full of F-words, heavy Scottish dialect, casual violence (and good old fashioned hardcore violence and murder), Watch Over Me is humdinger of a story.

It is a book that needs you to suspend belief a little and just go with it – I think if you can successfully do that then you will love Watch Over Me.

There are some superb characters in here – Lorraine, Saskia, Caroline, Beckie, Aylish to name but a few (most of the Johnson clan deserve a mention to be fair although I did get a little lost at times are there are a few of them!). I do wish that Flora and Neil had had a bit more about them though, I couldn’t really find myself bonding with Flora unfortunately – Jeez what does it say about me that I preferred Lorraine to Flora?! Don’t answer that…

There are so many layers to this book and lots of twists, turns and surprises – if you like a psychological thriller that will keep you on your toes then this is the book for you!

My thanks to Damp Pebbles and Jane Renshaw for letting me be a part of this blog tour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis: Flora always dreamed of the day she’d become a mother. But some dreams turn into nightmares.

Flora and Neil are happily married, but they can’t have children so decide to adopt. And when Flora  meets little Beckie it’s love at first sight. Deep in her heart, she knows they’re meant for each other, destined to be mother and daughter.

When Flora officially becomes Beckie’s mum, it’s like a part of her that’s always been missing is finally in place. She is complete, every day filled with purpose and joy.

There’s only one problem. Beckie was taken from her birth family, the Johnsons, because they have a history of violence and criminal behaviour and so are judged to be unfit to care for a child.

But the Johnsons don’t agree. As far as they’re concerned, Flora has stolen their little girl and they are determined to get her back. They’re very smart, utterly ruthless – and they have a plan. One that will turn Flora’s life into a living hell and push her to the very edge of insanity. 

Joining Blogging Book Tours – pros and cons

2019 has proved to be a wonderful year for me from a book blogging perspective. I have read some incredible books (I’ve read 72 according to Good Reads but I know it is a few more than that!).

I have always been a keen and regular reader – escapism at it’s finest!

During 2019 I’ve really embraced taking part in blog tours for books and I’ve hugely enjoyed it, it feels really good to be tiny part of the publicity and promotion for an author and to feel like I might in some small way have contributed to their sales 🙂

At this point, I would like to offer very genuine and heartfelt thanks to those who have welcomed me into their reviewers fold:

Damp Pebbles Blog Tours – got to start with Emma and Damp Pebbles as this was the first blog tour I joined and I have read some fabulous books thanks to Emma and the excellent service she offers to authors and reviewers.

Tony Marturano – next I move to Tony who introduced me to the fascinating and hugely exciting world of being invited to join a readers panel with a view to being an early reader to provide honest feedback intended help shape the editing process prior to publication. I was honoured to be able to this for Tony with his own books and also with Eye for Eye by J K Franko.

Book on the Bright Side Publicity – then there is the lovely Sarah from BOTBS who again I have taken part in some brilliant tours with and is super lovely to deal with too.

R&R Book Tours – now the lovely Shannon from R&R tours… Not only do I get to discover new books with her but she sends me MAGIC content that is all whizzy and HTML codey wizardry!

Random Things Tours – the most recent sign up for me is with the lovely Anne from Random Things Tours. Anne is great to deal with and super organised – thanks again for letting me take part.

Last but by no means least, I have also done a couple of reviews with Mirror Books and have a couple more lined up for the New Year. They are also great to work with and have some really exciting publications.

Also a nod to NetGalley, I absolutely love NetGalley!

So again, huge thanks to you all.

Now to Pros and Cons

I’ll start with cons as then they are out of the way. It can, at times, feel pressured. It can, sometimes, feel as though you are reading to meet a deadline rather than reading for enjoyment. There will be times when you don’t like the book. You will need to be clear and strong with your own opinions – without damaging the tour. You will need to be organised and meet the commitments you have made in terms of reviews – people are relying on you to publish on the right date. Never ever do it for the ‘free’ books, they aren’t free, think about the cost of your time!

Phew, now, on to the pros! So many positive aspects here, you get to read some amazing books – for me personally I’ve read books that I would probably not have ever encountered and a lot of them have been brilliant! You get to make connections with other people who love books 🙂 it’s a beautiful thing giving someone a book recommendation and then getting a tweet in a couple of weeks time to say they loved it. Reading an advance copy of a book for a nerd like me is exquisite! And, for me, the best thing is knowing that I’ve helped an author or made them smile when I can honestly say ‘I loved your book’.

So thank you all once again and I look forward to reading and reviewing many more fabulous books in 2020.

Lisa x

Retriever of Souls by Lorraine Mace

4 Stars from me

The first in the DI Sterling series, Retriever of Souls is a dark and depraved tale that is not for the feint of heart. From its opening chapters the scene is set and you have to have a stomach for the grim and gruesome to enjoy the book.

Lorraine Mace spares no blushes within these pages and there were a few scenes that I found heavy going – but that all adds to the darkness and the bleak sense of corruption, debauchery and immorality that exists in the mind of the killer.

Lots of interest, intrigue and red herrings made this a fast paced and engrossing read. DI Paolo Sterling is an interesting new character and I will certainly be looking out for book 2.

My thanks to Damp Pebbles Blog Tours for letting me take part.

Synopsis: The first title in a dark and gritty crime series. Brought up believing that sex is the devil’s work, a killer only finds release once he has saved his victim’s souls. Abiding by his vision, he marks them as his. A gift to guide his chosen ones on the rightful path to redemption.

Detective Inspector Paolo Sterling is out to stop him, but Paolo has problems of his own. Hunting down the killer as the death toll rises, the lines soon blur between Paolo’s personal and professional lives.

The Bowery Slugger by Leopold Borstinski

4 Stars from me

My first introduction to the writing of Leopold Borstinski and the character Alex Cohen has been a fascinating glimpse into a world ruled by mobsters in New York.

I loved the internal conflict within Alex himself of the good gentle boy who gave up a delicious pastry for the girl the next door vs the conscious-less thug who can stab someone without a second thought.

The mob lifestyle and the violence are intoxicating as we follow Alex down an inevitably dangerous path – he seems instinctively drawn to danger, with money as his guiding force.

The imagery and descriptions of the streets, clubs, shops and the hustle and bustle of 1919 New York is just wonderful. I felt transported back in time and could almost smell the dust and the grime on the streets and the stale booze and perfume in the club. The skill in making this come alive is subtle yet effective.

Great, immersive dive into the New York mob scene.

My thanks to Damp Pebbles blog tours and Leopold Borstinski for letting me be a part of this blog tour.

 

Synopsis: A turn-of-the-century Jewish boy punches his way into the gangs of New York.

When Alex Cohen arrives in 1915 America, he seizes the land of opportunity with both hands and grabs it by the throat. But success breeds distrust and Alex must choose between controlling his gang and keeping his friend alive. What would you do if the person you trusted most is setting you up to die at your enemies’ hands?

The first book in the Alex Cohen series is a violent historical novel, which rips through the early years of the Jewish New York mob. Leopold Borstinski’s gripping crime noir beats at the chest of every reader with a bloody fist.

Deadly Silence by OMJ Ryan

4 Stars from me

I loved this debut for Detective Jane Phillips and quickly felt invested in the story and the characters. So much so that I found myself hankering after reading the backstory for Jane!

There is a certain brutality about the murders yet there are definite glimpses of a murderer with a softer side – someone who is ‘just getting the job done/righting a wrong’ which made them all the more compelling in my view. Is it wrong to admit I liked their distinctive style?

DI Jane Phillips has a brilliant team and, despite her recent demotion, they very much have her back and this is what allows the case to actually be solved. The strength of trust and respect within her team is a beautiful touch. Her new ‘boss’ Brown, an old adversary and sufferer of small man syndrome, does everything in his power to set her up and attempt to solve the case by fair means or foul. He is deliciously dislikable and plans the perfect counter to Phillips as the team strive to solve the case before more murders are committed.

Deadly Silence has an original storyline on a contemporary theme, it contains and nice balance of peril and detective work, the scene setting and character creation are all brilliantly crafted and I really look forward to reading the next book in the series.

My thanks to @OMJRyan and #InkubatorBooks for letting me take part in this @DamppebblesBTs blog tour.

Deadly Silence (Detective Jane Phillips #1) by OMJ Ryan

#DeadlySilence #InkubatorBooks @OMJRYAN1 @damppebbles @DamppebblesBTs #damppebblesblogtours

www.inkubatorbooks.com/omj-ryan-author-page

Synopsis: Some sins can never be forgiven. DI Jane Phillips was a star detective driven by a relentless quest for justice. But then she stepped outside the law. Now, demoted and suffering with PTSD, she finds herself facing the deadliest threat of her career – a serial killer who is preying on vulnerable women, murdering them in a shocking and bizarre ritual. A master of deception, he selects his victims at random. Or so it seems. But as Phillips investigates, she begins to see a method in the killer’s madness. Perhaps these victims aren’t random at all…  As the pressure mounts, can Phillips find the link between these ritual murders before the killer strikes again — or will her dogged determination to solve the case bring his deadly silence to her door?

Ghost and Ragman Roll by Pete Adams

4 Stars from me

I’ve committed the worst of crimes and read this book without having read books 1-3 of the Kind Hearts and Martinets series, however I am relieved to say that it works really well on it’s own.

Being new to the series, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect and was therefore surprised by the level of humour within the book as we follow main character DCI Jack Austin being virtually Clouseau-esque during his Paris escapades while he is meant to be off duty on his honeymoon.

This unusual take on a crime thriller with entertainment throughout from DCI Jack (Jane) Austin made for a dollop of light relief in my usual dank murder-filled to be read pile!

My thanks to Damp Pebbles blog tours for letting me take part.

#GhostandRagmanRoll #KindHeartsandMartinets @Peteadams8 @nextchapterpb @damppebbles @DamppebblesBTs #damppebblesblogtours

Synopsis: Ghost and Ragman Roll is Book 4 in the bestselling Kind Hearts and Martinets crime series, featuring the eponymous Portsmouth detective DCI Jack (Jane) Austin. DCI Jack Austin is trying to enjoy his honeymoon with Detective Superintendent Amanda Bruce. But it soon becomes a busman’s holiday (or the crime busting equivalent) with news of a turf war in Portsmouth, a missing obese gangster who turns up skinny, and the seemingly unconnected murder of a banker in Paris. When an ambitious new detective arrives on Jack’s patch and starts making waves, he knows the time has come to get back to Southsea and protect not just his rather tarnished reputation, but those who truly matter to him. Ghost and Ragman Roll is another criminally funny romp with the world’s greatest – or is that worst? – police detective, DI Jack (Jane) Austin.

 

The Good Neighbor by Cathryn Grant

4 Stars from me

Wow! To say this book ‘packs a punch’ is such an understatement – it more ‘smacks you around the head with a 9 iron!’

The Good Neighbor starts off softly, albeit with a traumatic and shocking event – 14 year old Brittany has disappeared during the night, seemingly snatched from her bed. I have to confess I was lulled into thinking it would jog along nicely so boy was I taken by surprise!

The pace accelerates and accelerates before plunging you into free fall as more and more of the story is revealed. There were twists and turns around every corner all neatly packaged within this highly readable tale.

Be warned though, there are several moral questions hidden within these pages… Would you? Could you? How far would you go if you were in Taylor’s shoes, Moira’s shoes, Crystal’s shoes, Brittany’s shoes?

I haven’t read anything by Cathryn Grant before but she is certainly an author I will look out for now!

My thanks to @CathrynGrant and @damppebbles for letting me be a part of #damppebblesblogtours

Synopsis: Sometimes the past just won’t stay buried.

When 14 year old Brittany Cushing disappears one night, her parents are devastated, certain she has been taken.

They can’t bear to think about who has done this and why, about what might be happening to their precious daughter.

Their neighbor, Taylor, is a rock, doing everything she can to help – organizing search parties, setting up a Facebook page, …

As this affluent California community becomes focused on the hunt for the missing girl, it slowly becomes clear that her disappearance is linked to terrible secrets from the past.

Secrets that must be kept hidden at all costs….

The Good Neighbor is a gripping psychological thriller that twists and turns as it races towards its nerve-shredding climax. Perfect for fans of K. L. Slater, Teresa Driscoll and Mark Edwards.

About Cathryn Grant:

Cathryn’s fiction has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazines, The Shroud Quarterly Journal, and The Best of Every Day Fiction. Her story “I Was Young Once” received an honorable mention in the 2007 Zoetrope Fiction contest.

She’s the author of the Alexandra Mallory Psychological Suspense series, Psychological Thrillers, Suburban Noir novels, The Haunted Ship Trilogy, and the Madison Keith Ghost Story series.

When she’s not writing, Cathryn reads fiction, eavesdrops, and tries to play golf without hitting her ball into the sand or the water. She lives on the Central California coast with her husband and two cats.

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CathrynGrant

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CathrynGrant.Writer/

Website: https://www.cathryngrant.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cathryngrant_fiction/

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cathryn-Grant/e/B004G1I484?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_3&qid=1566901527&sr=8-3

Base Cowboys by Mark Farrer

4 Stars from me

Base Cowboys by Mark Farrer is an unusual comedy – not for feint-hearted or easy to offend! I’m going to focus this review on the first of the three novellas contained within the book.

Aptly named, Dirty Barry, is a despicable dentist (now in my book they are all despicable anyway but that’s another story…). He believes himself to be irresistible to women and has a variety of ways of ascertaining which of his female clients will succumb to his dubious charms. By all accounts of a fair few of them do and become members of the 5 o’clock appointment club where he seduces them and then films them in the act.

Well, he does until he encounters our unexpected hero in the shape of a cowboy named Cullen who seems set on his path of righting wrongs as he walks along the moral high road.

I won’t spoil the story for you but suffice it to say the dentist gets his comeuppance and there are plenty of laughs and much cheese along the way!

I read this as part of the http://www.damppebbles.com #basecowboys blog tour – my thanks to Emma for the opportunity.

Synopsis:

BASE COWBOYS is a comic crime trilogy set in the Scottish Borders. It is the sixth laugh-out-loud book in the CULLEN series written by Borders author Mark Farrer and will appeal to readers of Christopher Brookmyre, Carl Hiaasen, Nick Spalding or Tom Sharpe. The book tells the stories of three amoral ne’er-do-wells, their unfortunate and accidental intrusion into Cullen’s life, and the imaginative ways he finds of ensuring (his) justice is done:

Dirty Barry

The first casualty of adultery is… the tooth!

Barry Sullivan is a sordid dentist who resorts to blackmail to keep his string of married women in line. But now Cullen has toothache – and a very different interpretation of the dental code of practice.

Bronchial Billy

Meet Billy – the fastest gun in a vest.

Billy is a geriatric slum landlord desperate to win first prize in a Country & Western gunfight competition. But his trigger-happy birthday celebrations provoke Cullen, and now Billy must pay. Will he meet his High Noon at the Grand Ole Opry or will he go out with a bang? Whatever happens, there’s sure to be fireworks.

Pale Ale Rider

There’s trouble brewing…

Tyler is a teenage tearaway with the eyes of a serial killer. But when he decides to rob Big Paul’s local pub, he gets more than he bargained for. Will Tyler lose his bottle, or just get smashed? Cullen thinks he’s seen dead eyes like those before, and now he has a plan: he’s not bitter, he’s just a little twisted.

The Perfect Betrayal by Lauren North

5 Stars from me!

Poor Tess, the grief just oozes from these pages as she struggles even to exist following the aftermath of the plane crash which kills her husband. Day to day tasks seem impossible and Tess soon recognises that she isn’t being a good enough mum to their son, Jamie, who seems to mirror her feelings and emotions as he struggles to process his own.

Fortunately for Tess salvation arrives in the shape of grief counsellor Shelley who fast becomes her number one confidante and best friend as well as someone who steps in to help with Jamie – playing his favourite playstation games, cooking with him and generally being a stand-in mum while Tess flounders. But is she too good to be true?

As if the poor woman hasn’t been through enough, her brother-in-law starts demanding money – saying he’d lent it to her husband – someone is following her, someone is making menacing calls and before long she has no idea who she can trust.

I have to confess, I got to about 89% before I sussed what was going on… well I say I sussed it, I’m pretty sure it was spelt out! Such clever and well engineered plotting from Lauren North.

I also, having lived in Colchester for over 10 years, completely loved the locations noted!

Avoid any reviews containing spoilers and enjoy this book – it’s a fast paced read that will keep you guessing and defy you to work out who she can trust.

Huge thanks to Emma from Damp Pebbles Blog Tours for allowing me to take part.

Synopsis: After the sudden death of her husband, Tess is drowning in grief. All she has left is her son, Jamie, and she’ll do anything to protect him – but she’s struggling to cope.
When grief counsellor Shelley knocks on their door, everything changes. Shelley is understanding and kind, and promises she can help Tess through the hardest time of her life.

But when a string of unsettling events happens and questions arise over her husband’s death, Tess starts to suspect that Shelley may have an ulterior motive. Tess knows she must do everything she can to keep Jamie safe – but she’s at her most vulnerable, and that’s a dangerous place to be.

About Lauren North:
Lauren North writes psychological suspense novels that delve into the darker side of relationships and families. She has a lifelong passion for writing, reading, and all things books. Lauren’s love of psychological suspense has grown since childhood and her dark imagination of always wondering what’s the worst thing that could happen in every situation.

Lauren studied psychology before moving to London where she lived and worked for many years. She now lives with her family in the Suffolk countryside.

Social Media:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lauren_C_North
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LaurenNorthAuthor/

Fatal Fortune by Miranda Rijks

4 Stars from me!

Fatal Fortune hooks you at the very beginning as Dr Pippa Durrant learns that her photo is being splashed across the media stating that she is brutally murdered lottery winner Leanne Smith. At this early stage we meet her brother who sounds like an absolute sweetheart and get a glimpse into her troubled personal life.

Pippa is well respected and busy psychologist who has a healthy business and a fractured family – with the exception of her much beloved dog Mungo. She has never met Leanne Smith and yet the murdered woman’s family have clearly confirmed to the police that the photo is of Leanne, but why?

The book also focuses heavily on the life of Donna – Leanne’s daughter – and her somewhat questionable husband Ricky. Donna seems quite a naive creature and it is easy to feel sympathy for her… although her life and her morals soon come into question.

Very soon there is a whole raft of potential suspects – including Leanne’s father – and DS Joe Swain is brought in to try and solve the case. Is this the first in a series featuring Pippa and Joe? A few sparks seem to fly between them as they do the age old ‘will they, won’t they’ dance… or is he just using her to gauge reactions of his other suspects?

Soon things seem to start going wrong for Pippa and then there is another murder, the tension builds nicely and there are a few moments of potential peril for Pippa who seems quite carefree with her own safety.

This books felt to me like a roller coaster that chugged and chugged its way up to the peak and then suddenly tipped over into free fall as the plot cleverly weaves around itself and killer is finally revealed!

I would also heartily recommend I Want You Gone by Miranda Rijks and would like to thank Emma from Damp Pebbles for the opportunity to take part in the Fatal Fortune blog tour.

Synopsis: Is someone trying to frame psychologist Pippa Durrant for the brutal murder of a woman she’s never even met?

It certainly seems that way when Pippa’s photo is found on the body of murdered lottery winner, Leanne Smith.

Pippa soon finds herself a suspect at the centre of a huge media storm. But she has an invaluable skill set – she is a human polygraph, expertly trained to spot lies and deceit. Skills she will need to help her to solve the mystery of who killed Leanne before it destroys her career – and her life.

But every cloud has a silver lining and this one arrives in the shape of DS Joe Swain. Initially suspicious of Pippa, he comes to trust her and to value her lie detection skills. Soon it’s clear there’s a definite spark between them….

Then, when another body turns up, Pippa realises her reputation isn’t the only thing in danger. Can she identify the killer before she becomes the next victim?

Fatal Fortune is the electrifying first book in the Dr. Pippa Durrant Thriller Series. If you like edge-of-your-seat action, clever sleuths, and shocking twists, then you’ll love Miranda Rijks’ gripping crime novel.