#Blogtour Life Ruins by Danuta Kot @DantaJR @simonschusteruk @annecater #RandomThingsTours #LifeRuins

Life Ruins Cover

Life Ruins by Danuta Kot   Simon and Schuster   July 25th 2019

A body, briefly glimpsed at the bottom of an abandoned mineshaft, vanishes when the police investigate. Jared recovering from an almost fatal injury and addicted to
painkillers, knows he saw something terrible in that mine… but he has no evidence, and fears he’s losing his grip on reality.
A girl is attacked so savagely she can’t be identified, and dumped late at night in an isolated campground. She’s alive, but only just. Becca, tossed out of university and just let go from her dead-end job, is certain she knows who the victimis. But no one will believe her, and she can hardly even trust herself.
Kay, recently widowed and coming to terms with life on her own, suddenly finds herself forced to get involved. For years she and her husband fostered difficult children – including Becca, whom trouble follows like a stray puppy. And now Becca seems to be in the worst trouble of her life.
And then Jared and Becca meet. Becca, strong-minded and fiercely independent, is confident they can figure out what’s going on. She pulls Kay into the mix, knowing they’ll need all the help they can get….because the police don’y believe them. And more girls are vanishing.
Separately, Kay, Becca and Jared believe their lives have hit rock bottom. But drawn together under extraordinary circumstances, they’ll discover the strength to fight back… and ultimately rebuild their lives from the ruins.

My Review

Hold on tight as this novel is fast, with plot twists and turns aplenty, but it’s not just the plot that made this novel stand out, but it’s wonderful characters. They were characters for one reason or another for whom life had not been kind, everything a struggle with seemingly no way out.

I loved the feisty Becca, parentless, brought up in foster homes with an inner anger that lingered just below the surface. She was unpredictable but resourceful and it was fascinating to see her change and mature as the story unfolded.

Jared was completely different, a family he’d left behind after a traumatic event that seemed to haunt him, a free climbing accident that wracked his body with pain. I liked that Kot didn’t really reveal his full story but let us read between the lines, see the clues in the way he dealt with events and his actions.

Kay, foster Mum, a widow and lonely who tried to get through each day as best she could.

Kot cleverly linked them altogether, Kay Becca’s past foster mum, but best of all was the relationship between Jared and Becca.

They were two lost souls, both floundering in their lives yet the strange happenings somehow united them, gave them a purpose, a reason to move forward and you could see their attitudes, change and mature as you read.

The plot itself was brilliant, full of uncertainty, of briefly glimpsed bodies, of uncompromising, dangerous characters who would stop at nothing to get what they wanted.

The one thing that really stood out was Kot’s scene setting. The east coast towns of Bridlington and Whitby wonderfully described, the isolation of the surrounding area and the dark brooding weather created a brilliantly chilling atmosphere. It fitted perfectly with the darkness of the crimes, and the people.

It wasn’t until the latter parts of the novel that Kot drew the complexities of the plot together and revealed all. It certainly didn’t make for pleasant reading but then this wasn’t a comfortable cosy story. Indeed it was a brilliantly written dark and brooding thriller that I would highly recommend.

I would like to thank Simon and Schuster for a copy of Life Ruins to read and review and to Anne Cater Of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Danuta Kot Author Picture

Danuta Kot grew up with stories. Her Irish mother and her Polish father kept their own cultures alive with traditional tales they shared with their children.
For many years, she worked with young people in Yorkshire who were growing up in the aftermath of sudden industrial decline. She uses this background in her books to explore some of the issues that confront modern, urban society: poverty, alienation and social breakdown, using the contexts of the modern crime novel. She has previously written under the names, Danuta Reah and Carla Banks. Danuta was also a former chair of the Crime Writers’ Association.
She now works as a senior education consultant, work that involves travel to establish education and training in other parts of the world. She is a regular academic speaker at conferences and literary festivals, and has appeared on radio and television.

Life Ruins BT Poster


#Blogtour Then She Vanishes by Claire Douglas @Dougieclaire @PenguinUKBooks @sriya_v #ThenSheVanishes

Then She Vanishes

Then She Vanishes by Claire Douglas  Penguin August 8th 2019

Everything changed the night Flora Powell disappeared.

Heather and Jess were best friends – until the night Heather’s sister vanished.

Jess has never forgiven herself for the lie she told that night. Nor has Heather.

But now Heather is accused of an awful crime.

And Jess is forced to return to the sleepy seaside town where they grew up, to ask the question she’s avoided for so long:

What really happened the night Flora disappeared?

My Review

Ohh this novel was so good, a real page turner that had I not had guests would have read in one sitting.

I loved the whole premise of the past and the present as they collided and the ramifications for Douglas’s characters.

Jess, the journalist on the look out for a big story only to face a real moral dilemma between the professional and the personal. Her own personal demons and regrets fitted perfectly into the story, giving it a real personal feel, as she showed humanity, and tenacity in pursuit of the truth.

Margot, mother, to Flora and Heather, angry, bitter yet resolutely loyal to her family. She was fierce yet tender and I loved the relationship she rebuilt with Jess.

Told in their two distinctive voices gave Douglas the tools she needed to tell their side of the story, their perspective on the past and present. I loved the slow unraveling of Flora’s disappearance, the connections as they became ever more clearer to present day events.

The supporting cast of characters gave the novel added, and intriguing complications that left the reader wondering who to trust, who to believe. What intrigued most was the unknown voice whose thoughts were cleverly interspersed between chapters. It lifted the novel, added an extra twist, as you tried to work out who it was!

Douglas brilliantly handled the complexities of her story, the threads neatly pulled together as she gave us a thrilling, tense ending.

If you haven’t read Douglas before then please do.

I would like to thank Penguin UK for a copy of Then She Vanished to read and review and to Sriya Varadharajan for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author


Image result for claire douglas author

Claire Douglas has worked as a journalist for fifteen years writing features for women’s magazines and national newspapers, but she’s dreamed of being a novelist since the age of seven. She finally got her wish after winning the Marie Claire Debut Novel Award, with her first novel, The Sisters, which was followed by Local Girl Missing, Last Seen Alive and Do Not Disturb, all Sunday Times bestsellers. She lives in Bath with her husband and two children.


#Blogtour Nightingale Point by Luan Goldie @LuanGoldie @HQStories @bookbellereads #NightingalePoint


Nightingale Point Hardcover by

Nightingale Point by Luan Goldie   HQ Stories July 25th 2019

On an ordinary Saturday morning in 1996, the residents of Nightingale Point wake up to their normal lives and worries.

Mary has a secret life that no one knows about, not even Malachi and Tristan, the brothers she vowed to look after.
Malachi had to grow up too quickly. Between looking after Tristan and nursing a broken heart, he feels older than his twenty-one years.
Tristan wishes Malachi would stop pining for Pamela. No wonder he’s falling in with the wrong crowd, without Malachi to keep him straight.
Elvis is trying hard to remember to the instructions his care worker gave him, but sometimes he gets confused and forgets things.
Pamela wants to run back to Malachi but her overprotective father has locked her in and there’s no way out.

It’s a day like any other, until something extraordinary happens. When the sun sets, Nightingale Point is irrevocably changed and somehow, through the darkness, the residents must find a way back to lightness, and back to each other.

My Review

Take a normal inner London tower block and it’s myriad of residents, throw in a tragic accident and Gold gave us a fantastic and at times harrowing novel.

Gold gave us their before and after stories, set the scene before throwing their lives into disorder and despair.

I loved that she told their story in their own voices, able to really delve deep into their innermost thoughts, and anguish.

Malachy, elder brother of Tristan, his role to be Mum and Dad whilst he tried to juggle university and their precarious finances. Such a responsibility you could almost feel and see the weight of the world resting on his shoulders. His over protectiveness was his undoing in the aftermath as he struggled with his inability to control events, to find a way forward.

Tristan, younger brother, the wide boy in with the wrong crowd, the accident a wake up call, a re-evaluation of life. Gold gave him a cheekiness and arrogance before the thump and reality of real life, of dealing with medical issues and an appreciation of those in his life.

Mary, mother, grandmother, protector of Malachy and Tristan, a largely absent husband and a faith so deep rooted it frustrated me. Yet you knew Mary had to find a new way to accept her faith, and Gold excelled in her descriptions of Mary’s anguish.

Pamela’s story was heartbreaking, a young girl, daughter of an over protective father who denied her a normal life. Her role in the novel so different from the other characters, as she acted almost like a catalyst for present and future events.

Elvis, for me was the most endearing, his story poignant full of bravery, prejudice, of a struggle to live a normal life. The accident was somehow a blessing, even if it was traumatic. I loved how Gold showed a young man with difficulties triumph in a confusing and complicated world.

The characters were all so different yet it was if Gold had put them all into a blender as the once tenacious connections became deeper, more meaningful, the already existing connections severed only to be brought back together in a different form.

Gold brilliantly showed how tragedy affects everyone no matter what their socio-economic background. The tragedy itself graphic in detail, devastating to read but so necessary to provide the impact, the horror Gold wished to convey.

Gold left no stone unturned as she wrote of the inadequacy of local authorities, and social services, overwhelmed, unable to cope, as they let down their service users again and again.

It was hard not compare with the recent Grenfell tragedy, but Gold never sensationalised, just told her story, a story that was not only a social commentary but a hard hitting, tragic but fantastic story.

I would like to thank HQ Stories for a copy of Nightingale Point to read and review and to Lucie Richardson for inviting My Bookish Blogspot.

About the author

Luan Goldie - image

Luan Goldie is a primary school teacher, and formerly a business journalist. She has written several short stories and is the winner of the Costa Short Story Award 2017 for her short story ‘Two Steak Bakes and Two Chelsea Buns’. She was also shortlisted for the London Short Story Prize in 2018 and the Grazia/Orange First Chapter competition in 2012, and was chosen to take part in the Almasi League, an Arts Council-funded mentorship programme for emerging writers of colour. Nightingale Point is her debut novel.


#Blogtour Looker by Laura Sims @ljsims50 @TinderPress @annecater #RandomThingsTours #Looker


Looker by Laura Sims   Tinder Press  July 25th 2019The

Professor lives in Brooklyn; her partner Nathan left her when she couldn’t have a baby. All she has now is her dead-end teaching job, her ramshackle apartment, and Nathan’s old moggy, Cat. Who she doesn’t even like.

The Actress lives a few doors down. She’s famous and beautiful, with auburn hair, perfect skin, a lovely smile. She’s got children – a baby, even. And a husband who seems to adore her. She leaves her windows open, even at night.

There’s no harm, the Professor thinks, in looking in through the illuminated glass at that shiny, happy family, fantasising about them, drawing ever closer to the actress herself. Or is there?

My Review

Dark and intense are two words that perfectly sum up Laura Sim’s novel Looker.

Our narrator was an unnamed professor, a woman who outwardly seemed fine but inwardly was definitely not ok. You had to wonder about a grown woman with an unhealthy obsession with a famous actress who resided a few doors away. Was she jealous of the actresses family, her loving husband, her children, her success? Did she want what she had or did she just want to be her friend, to be a part of what she had?

It could have be one or all of them, and that is what made this novel so intriguing as you tried to work out the many questions Sims posed as to our narrators motives and actions.

The one thing the novel was definitely about was the huge impact life events can have on one person, how it can close us off from the rest of the world. It was almost as if our narrator had put on a pair of blinkers, couldn’t see anything beyond the actress, herself and her all encompassing need to belong to something or someone.

You admired Sims’s ability to step deep within her character, her eloquence at conveying her emotions, her turmoil so brilliantly into her narrative.

At points Sims made me feel sorry for her, at others I really didn’t like her. She frustrated me, I wanted her to wake up, to halt the self destruct button and get help. You could only watch as she spiralled out of control and you knew there was nothing you or she could do to stop it.

The ending when it came was abrupt, shocking and inevitable, and perfectly fit the general tone and themes of the novel.

The novel itself wasn’t long, a mere 198 pages but it didn’t need to be any longer. Sims’s narrative was precise, every word, every page heavy with tension and turmoil and at times menace. It was an intense, fast, dark read that left you exhausted but satisfied as you turned the final page and I loved it.

I would like to thank Tinder Press for a copy of Looker to read and review and to Anne Cater if Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to read and review.

About the author

Laura Sims is the author of four books of poetry, and LOOKER is her debut novel. She lives in Brooklyn.

#Blogtour Expectation by Anna Hope @Anna_Hope @DoubledayUK @anncater #RandomThingsTours #Expectation.

Expectation Cover

Expectation by Anna Hope   Doubleday July 11th 2019

Hannah, Cate and Lissa are young, vibrant and inseparable. Living on the edge of a  common in East London, their shared world is ablaze with art and activism, romance and revelry – and the promise of everything to come. They are electric. They are the best of friends. Ten years on, they are not where they hoped to be.
Amidst flailing careers and faltering marriages, each hungers for what the others have.
And each wrestles with the same question: what does it take to lead a meaningful life?
EXPECTATION is a novel of the highs and lows of friendship – how it can dip, dive and rise again.
It is also about finding your way: as a mother, a daughter, a wife, a rebel. Most of all, it explores that liminal space between expectation and reality, the place – full of dreams, desires and pain – in which we all live our lives.

My Review

Expectations was one of those novels that you didn’t want to end, that you needed to read slowly, to saviour every word on the page.

It was a novel that I have to admit, made me sob, not because it was unbelievably sad, although in places it was, but because it told the story of the lives of three ordinary women. They were women that you could see some of yourself in each of them, that resonated, made you remember both the good times and the bad.

Hannah, oh Hannah, how my heart ached as her attempts to conceive were thwarted. Her inability to control events, to let herself be free and spontaneous led to such devastating consequences, her life filled with such anguish by Hope, the desperation and failure set bare upon the pages.

Cate, mother to baby Tom, so lost in the throes of motherhood, drowned in maternal love, yet not sure how to handle it, and a relationship. Cate was the character whom I identified with most, Hope taking me back to how I felt, how just like Cate I felt stripped of my identity, unsure where or how I would rediscover myself.

Lissa, an actress, with an inner belief that that is what she was meant to be. I admired her determination, her thick skin as rejection followed rejection, yet Hope showed us her insecurities and vulnerabilities that made her question what and where she should be. I loved the relationship between Lissa and her mother, Sarah, on the surface easy and chilled but a simmering tension and uneasiness that lingered just waiting to erupt in some way.

It was friendship that bound the three women together, their differing characteristics somehow blended and fitted neatly even if marriage, children and work meant communication was only brief and intermittent. It was as if Hope had tied them altogether with a piece of elastic, never to snap , always pulling them back together.

It was this friendship that I loved, how Hope didn’t just concentrate on the good stuff, as she wove in conflict and hurt, placed a microscope over their innermost thoughts and feelings. I admired her sheer brilliance at capturing the essence of what it means to be a woman in our modern age, of the many hats we have to wear, of the sheer expectation others and indeed ourselves place on one another.  There seemed to be an inherent need to be a success, to be the perfect mother, daughter, lover, only to fall short, to be seen as a failure, somehow inept. How she wove this into her novel was simply brilliant, stunning, subtle and mesmerising.

Expectation wasn’t just about the need to make observations, and comments, it was also simply a story, a simple story that didn’t have a need for embellishments, that seamlessly interwove the history of the women’s friendship with their here and now, that gave it the context it needed to explain their actions, feelings and thoughts towards one another.  Their husbands, mothers, partners, friends were the support cast, there to further complicate their once straightforward lives, who forced them to reassess their friendship, redraw the lines and find the balance that would once again allow them to be close and comfortable with one another.

No matter how many words I have written, none will do justice to what a fantastic novel Expectation was, it lived up to all the hype, expectation and more.

I would like to thank Doubleday for a copy of Expectation to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Anna Hope Author Picture

ANNA HOPE studied at Oxford University and RADA. Her contemporary fiction debut, Expectation, explores themes of love, lust, motherhood, and feminism, while asking the
greater question of what defines a generation. She lives in Sussex with her husband and young daughter.

Expectation Blog Tour Poster

#Blogtour Wicked Girl by I.V Olokita @Olokital @damppebbles #damppebblesblogtours #WickedGirl

Wicked Girl

Girl by I.V Olokital   May 4th 2019

“Even if a dog goes mad, it will always be a dog.” 

So said a small white sign hung on a wall in Birmingham Mental Institution Ward number 3. It had a black frame, written in a hand they were all well acquainted with. The letters had faded over time. In the end, among all the calligraphy in the frame, one could detect a blurred signature. It was mine. 

John Wilcox is a young idler who loathes people except for young women. His destiny brought him near Birmingham Mental Institution during an earthquake. At that time Wilcox saves Elsie, an eccentric, half-deranged teenager. John pulls out every manipulation at his disposal to convince her that he is the right person to help her recover. Grey, Alessi’s father, goes on a quest for his lost daughter. She, too, like her mother, was trying to escape him. And so, began the tragic story between prey, and it’s supposed predator.

Wicked Girl is a psychological crime fiction, where a sequence of accidents generates cold-blooded, and blood-curdling actions. It is a fascinating combination of romance, tension, and humor, unpredictable to the very end. Presented in a clear, straightforward way, yet its plot is packed with wit, action, and surprises grabbing the reader’s attention all the way to the last word.

My Review 

Ok, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, I mean an earthquake in the middle of Birmingham of all places. Maybe the author had a glimpse into the future, and saw something we could never ever imagine and indeed it was Olokita’s imagination that seemed to run riot throughout Wicked Girls.

The novel itself was pretty short but Olokita packed in an awful lot. We had John, a would be psychologist whose rescue of Elsie from the rumble of the quake set off a chain of pretty bizarre events. Could he save her from her Father, could he rehabilitate her or would her Father, Gray reclaim her and continue to abuse her?

Barry and Eveline were thrown into the mix, their own trauma  brought to the fore as they cared for Elsie.

Elsie, herself, was brilliantly portrayed, a real Jekyll and Hyde character, the reader never knowing from one page to the next which side we would see.. or when or if she ever told the truth.

I loved how Olokita exaggerated his characters various traits, adding to the heightened dramatic and at times brutal feel of the novel. There was definitely no sweetness and light although that didn’t anyway detract from my enjoyment.

You never worked out if John was actually Elsie’s saviour or if he was merely attracted to her, Barry and Eveline both friend and foe, as wires became crossed and loyalties tested.

The narrative was fast and punchy, full of tension and Olokita took you on a real rollercoaster ride as he cranked up the tension before an electrifying drama filled climax.

Yet Olokita didn’t stop there, just as you thought that was it he gave us more, one twist followed by another, that left me quite open mouthed. I had to question what I had read, look more carefully for the clues that I must have missed only to give in and admire the author for his heart stopping ending.

Wicked Girl wasn’t my usual type of novel, it was very definitely out of my comfort zone but sometimes you need to read the unusual, experience other genres, and be surprised.

Wicked Girl was definitely a surprise and I shall be making more of an effort to step out of my comfort zone a little bit more.

I would like to thank I.V Olokita for a copy of Wicked Girl to read and review and to Emma Welton of Damp Pebbles Blogtours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author


I.V. Olokita has been providing medical care most of his life, specializing in management of medical aid to disaster areas all over the world. He also has a BA degree in logistics, and an MA degree in emergency and disaster situations management. He volunteers to rescue missions in disaster areas all over the world. I. V. Olokita is a happily married father of two adolescents and a foster father of five cats and two dogs.

Olokita’s first book (in Hebrew), Ten Simple Rules, was published in 2014. It won an Israeli literary prize, and immediately made an online bestseller. The following year, another book by Olokita, The Executioner From The Silent Valley, made a local bestseller in Israel. In May 2016, his third novel, Wicked Girl, was published, to great success, and is now presented in English. Olokita’s books are characterized by direct writing, twists and turns, requiring the reader to delve into and maintain vigilance from the beginning of the book to its surprising end.

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/OlokitaI

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iv.books/

Website: http://wickedgirl-olokita.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/iv.olokita/


#Blogtour The Closer I Get by Paul Burston @PaulBurston @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #TheCloserIGet


The Closer I Get by Paul Burston  Orenda  July 11th 2019

Tom is a successful author, but for the first time in his life, he has writer ’s block. His main distraction is an online admirer, Evie, who simply won’t leave him alone. Evie is smart, well read and unstable; she lives with her sick father and her social media friendships are not only her escape, but everything she has. When she’s hit with a restraining order, her world collapses, whilst Tom is free to live his life again, and to
concentrate on writing. But things are aren’t adding up. For Tom is also addicted to his
online relationships, and when they take a darker, more menacing turn, he’s powerless to change things, because maybe he needs Evie more than he’s letting on.

A compulsive, disturbingly relevant, twisty and powerful psychological thriller, The Closer I Get is also a searing commentary on the fragility and insincerity of online relationships, and the danger that can lurk on the other side of a screen…

My Review

It’s not often you read a book that is quite so raw, so full of emotion with a deep understanding of its themes. Paul Burston drew on his own true life experience as the victim of a female stalker to write a novel that was both mesmerising, intense and absolutely superb.

At the end of my review and in the about the author section I urge you to take five minutes to click on the link to The Guardian article Burston wrote about his experience. It will make you see just how fantastically he translates that pain and anguish into his characters and narrative.

Tom, once famous author, attempting to write that all elusive next bestseller was our victim, but not a victim in the simple sense. Yes, you felt sorry for him, but Burston injected an underlying uncertainty, one that made you question his role. Was he telling the whole truth, was he manipulating the situation for his own purposes? There was no doubting the trauma and after effects, which Burston wrote about with amazing clarity. It was a clarity that made you feel his fear, his paranoia, his inescapable dread that his stalker would reappear.

Outwardly Tom was charming, proud of who he was, gay, successful, but inwardly you could sense his insecurities, as the harassment extenuated his shortcomings, his selfishness.

His stalker, Evie, again outwardly normal, inwardly disturbed and obsessive. At first glance Burston drew a picture of a woman you didn’t like, who deserved everything that came her way. It wasn’t until Burston began to slowly reveal her upbringing, the lack of attention, the absence of a mother’s love, of being psychologically damaged that he made you doubt your preconceptions. Was she really that bad, or was she also a victim, a victim of circumstance, a lack of someone to notice her, to love her, to guide her?

For all her psychological failings I loved that Burston gave her an unrivalled intelligence, her actions, and her motives driven by her love of literature, of what she read, her brain sharp and quick. His understanding of her manipulation between reality and fantasy was outstanding and you had to admire Burston’s skilful narrative, the obvious thought he had put onto the pages, his ability to put himself in her shoes.

The same could be said of Tom, his words written as someone who has suffered and struggled, but overcome, unlike Tom who seemed almost certainly in denial of the after effects and trauma he was so clearly suffering.

The role of Tom’s friend Emma, was genius, she was Tom’s conscience, the one who sat on his shoulder, who tried to see both sides, the friend who was unceremoniously pushed aside, ignored and used.  She was integral to the novel, the voice of reason, of sanity, or was she!

For the most part, my feelings towards Tom were mixed and I think that was Burston’s intention. In an age of digital media, it was obvious that he wanted to provoke, to examine and raise awareness to what a dangerous era we now live in. It is an age where the words written on a screen can have a myriad of interpretations, can hurt in a way they have never done before and have a devastating impact. It seems anyone is fair game for that one person who just can’t help, for whatever reason, to take their actions that one step further.

The Closer I Get was a novel for our time and, if you pardon the cliche, a cautionary tale for all of us to sit up and really think about what we write, what we read and how we use social media. Burston’s deep understanding of his characters, his own personal experience will linger long in my mind, the subtle but brilliant twist at the end, the perfect end to the perfect novel.

I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of The Closer I Get to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Paul Burston Author Photo

Paul Burston is the author of five novels and the editor of two short story collections. His most recent novel The Black Path, was a WHSmith bestseller. His first novel, Shameless, was shortlisted for the State of Britain Award. His third novel, Lovers & Losers was shortlisted for a Stonewall Award. His fourth, The Gay Divorcee, was optioned for television. He was a founding editor of Attitude magazine and has written for many publications including Guardian, Independent, Time Out, The Times and Sunday Times. In March 2016, he was featured in the British Council’s #FiveFilms4Freedom Globa List 2016, celebrating “33 visionary people who are promoting freedom, equality and LGBT rights around the world”. He is the founder and host of London’s award-winning LGBT+ literary salon Polari and founder and chair ofThe Polari First Book Prize for new writing and the newly announced Polari Prize.

Check out Paul Burston’s own personal experience in the article he wrote for The Guardian.



closer I get blog poster 2019

#Blogtour Stone Cold Heart by Caz Frear @CazziF @BonnierZaffre @Tr4cyF3nt0n #CompulsiveReaders #StoneColdHeart


Stone Cold Heart by Caz Frear

A fractured marriage. A silent family. A secret that connects them all.

When DC Cat Kinsella is approached by Joseph Madden for help with his wife, Rachel, there’s not much she can do. Joseph claims that Rachel has been threatening him, but can’t – or won’t – give Cat details as to why. Dismissing it as a marriage on the rocks, Cat forgets about it.

That is until Naomi Lockhart, a young PA, is found dead after a party attended by both Joseph and Rachel, and Joseph is arrested for the murder.

Joseph says his wife is setting him up.
His wife says he didn’t do it.
The trail of evidence leads to even more questions . . .

Adulterer. Murderer. Victim. Who would you believe?

My Review

I’m not sure what I liked most, the punchy narrative or Detective Constable Cat Kinsella, maybe by the end of the review I will have made my mind up.

Lets start with DC Cat Kinsella, a young woman obviously blighted emotionally by past events, events that could ruin her promising career as a detective and what I am sure were addressed in Frear’s first novel. However that didn’t matter as Frear gave enough detail, and filled in the blanks that meant Stone Cold Heart stood perfectly well on it’s own.

Kinsella was one tough cookie, resilient, forthright yet wasn’t afraid to show emotion and indeed to feel emotion as she wrestled with a tough murder case and family issues that hovered in the background.  I liked the mix of personal and professional that gave the novel that added extra edge, the element of danger to Kinsella somehow heightened, that she seemed more human, more ordinary than any of the detectives you so often encounter in crime novels. I think it was this ordinariness that had me rooting for her, hoping that her love life, her family and her professional woes would be resolved.

The murder was definitely not straightforward, each character had their own motive, secrets that needed to remain hidden, and they were all family which only made the intrigue more enthralling.

They were not the nicest of characters, Jacob the narcissist, who never seemed able to distinguish between the real and the make believe. Rachel, his wife, meek, mild and scared or was she? Their daughter, Clara, confident, brash, intelligent, ignored by her father, smothered by her Mum. I wanted feel sorry for her, but I didn’t as traits of her father seemed to linger. Rachel’s brother, Marcus, the reformed bad boy, who seemed the only sane realist amongst them. His wife Kirstie, a woman who was all about appearances, superficial and selfish.

This heady mix of personalities had your head in a veritable spin as you tried to work out who was protecting whom and more importantly who the murderer was. I found it enthralling and addictive and wished my train journey had been that little bit longer so I could get to the end.

Kinsella was tenacious in pursuit of the culprit and I loved her initiative, her willingness to bend the rules and take risks.

The outcome was complex, but Frear left no stone unturned and you couldn’t help but feel slightly disgusted that a family could be so selfish, and self absorbed.

As I have already said the narrative was punchy, with an edge to it that I loved. It didn’t have that staid feel that you sometimes get in crime novels, and for me I found it very visual like watching an engrossing TV drama unfolding in front of me.

I think I liked Kinsella and the narrative in equal measure and I definitely liked the cliffhanger ending and hope Frear doesn’t keep us waiting too long for the next instalment.

I would like to thank Zaffre for a copy of Stone Cold Heart to read and review and to Tracy Fenton Of Compulsive Readers for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.


About the author


Caz Frear

Caz Frear grew up in Coventry and spent her teenage years dreaming of moving to London and writing a novel. After fulfilling her first dream, it wasn’t until she moved back to Coventry thirteen years later that the writing dream finally came true. She has a first-class degree in History & Politics, which she’s put to enormous use over the years by working as a waitress, shop assistant, retail merchandiser and, for the past twelve years, a headhunter. When she’s not agonising over snappy dialogue or incisive prose, she can be found shouting at the TV when Arsenal are playing or holding court in the pub on topics she knows nothing about.

Caz Frear Blogtour

#Blogtour Beyond Reasonable Doubt @garybellqc @bloomsburyraven @emmafinnegan @damppebbles #damppebblesblogtours #BeyondReasonableDoubt #EliottRookQC


Beyond Reasonable Doubt by Gary Bell    Bloomsbury Raven June 13th 2019

Elliot Rook QC is one of the greatest barristers of his generation. 

He is also a complete fraud.

Elliot Rook is the epitome of a highly successful, old Etonian QC. Or so everyone believes. In fact, he is an ex-petty criminal with a past that he has spent decades keeping secret. Until now.

An unidentified young woman of Middle Eastern origin has been found murdered on the outskirts of Rook’s home town. Billy Barber – a violent football hooligan and white-supremacist – is accused of her murder. Barber insists that Rook must defend him. If Rook refuses, Barber will expose him, bringing crashing to the ground the life and career that Rook has spent his life building.

The truth is there for the finding. But at what cost?

My Review

I so often start crime thriller novels and hope against hope that the author wouldn’t churn up the usual plotlines and characters and  I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that this novel took a differing angle and gave us some brilliant insights into the life of a Barrister or QC

What struck me most was the snobbery, and old boy network mentality, Eton and Oxford almost a prerequisite to the inner sanctum of Chambers.

Elliott Rook was the anomaly, the bad boy turned good, who never lied about his background but was somewhat economical with the truth!

Here was a recently divorced man, who drank and smoked too much and was a veritable workaholic, waiting for that kick up the backside to restart his life. The kick came in the form of Billy, a blast from his past and one that he hoped would not reappear. With no option but to represent Billy and get him off the violent murder of a young Asian girl in order to conceal his past, Rook returns to Nottingham and the town where he grew up, coming face to face with long lost friends and acquaintances.

He is joined on his quest by Zara, his junior, again not from Oxford but from his hometown and most importantly black, from a minority background. She is the perfect foil, light and airy compared to the gruff brusqueness of Rook, adding some light into what could have been a gloomy and quite depressing novel.

The story itself, was mired in racism, prostitution and the problems minority groups face in today’s society. Bell did not pull any punches, the narrative threaded with violence and darkness, however it was well placed and not there just for effect. His themes raised some interesting thought provoking questions and were obviously drawn from his own personal experience as a QC.

The court scenes could have been quite tedious, but were actually very well done filled with tension and some great drama, in fact for me it was one of the highlights of the novel.

Beyond Reasonable Doubt had all the usual ingredients of a good thriller but what raised it above the parapet, was the intelligent and informative narrative, Bells’s insights were brilliantly done, showed a world that may seem glamorous but was  filled with hardwork and graft to achieve success and results. It is not a lifestyle I myself would want but i rest assured that should I need a barrister or QC  i would be in safe hands.

I would like to thank Bloomsbury Raven for a copy of Beyond Reasonable Doubt to read and review and to Emma Welton of Damp Pebbles Blogtours fro inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogotur.

About the

Gary Bell

Born into a coal mining family, Gary Bell QC left school without any qualifications and was an apprentice mechanic, fork lift truck driver, production line worker, builder, fireman and door-to-door salesman, as well as a notorious football hooligan, before being arrested for fraud aged 18. After a brief stint in prison he set off to seek fame and fortune abroad and, after two years drifting around Europe ended up penniless and homeless. He next enrolled in a FE College to study his O and A levels, and then went on to study law as a mature student at Bristol University where he ‘became’ an Old Etonian. After graduating he spent a year as a litigation lawyer in Beverly Hills before coming back to England to become a barrister. He has spent over thirty years at the Bar, specialising in defending in major fraud and murder trials, becoming a QC in 2012. Always on the look out for challenges and opportunities he has also been an award winning stand-up comedian; an after-dinner speaker (when at University he won several national debating competitions and was runner up in the World’s Humorous Debating Competition at Princeton); he has learned to fly a plane, hosted his own TV show (the Legalizer) on BBC1; writes regularly for national newspapers; has a column in The Spectator and wrote his best-selling autobiography, Animal QC.

Social Media:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/garybellqc

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#Blogtour The Reunion by Guillaume Musso @Guillaume_Musso @wnbooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #CompulsiveReaders #TheReunion

The Reunion: There are more than just secrets buried in this school's past... by [Musso, Guillaume]

The Reunion by Guillaume Musso


On a freezing night, as her high school campus is engulfed by a snowstorm, 19-year-old Vinca Rockwell runs away with Alexis, her philosophy teacher.

No one will ever see them again.

Formerly inseparable, Thomas, Maxime and Fanny – Vinca’s best friends – have not spoken in twenty-five years. But when they receive an invitation to their school’s anniversary reunion, they know they must go back one final time.

Because there is a body buried in that building…

…and they’re the ones who put it there.

My Review

School reunions, an opportunity to catch up, see how people have grown, changed and what direction their lives have taken. Most of us would look forward to it but not Thomas, as he prepared to enter a lions den of past emotions and secrets.

Musso gave us everything, from unrequited love, murder, and a tangled web of secrets and intrigue.

The characters all had diverse backgrounds, which made for a heady mix of the have and the have nots. It didn’t just centre around the students, as teachers and parents were drawn in, and you never knew who was telling the truth, who was hiding, reluctant to come forward to admit past mistakes.

For Thomas it was about reconciliation, coming to terms with a love that was mired in illusion, blinkered with devastating consequences, as Musso showed how we can literally be blinded by love. He gave us the mythical Vinca, the girl who men swarmed around likes flies, a woman who seemed lost, and confused, unaware of the chaos she created.

You thought it was a simple crime of passion but oh no Musso pulled out all the stops, the intrigue thick and at times impenetrable, the reader never knowing who or what would happen next, which avenue to take. It gave the novel that great feeling of tension and suspense the latter pages full of pulsating drama and surprise. You felt satisfied that all was resolved until Musso threw in a curve ball, one full of relief and a feeling of closure for Thomas and his friends.

If the plot twists and turns were good then the beautiful descriptions of the Cote D’Azur were equally splendid. An area full of the wealthy, a landscape that could be beautiful as well as dangerous. It was perfectly befitting of its characters and the story, the normality of life mixed with the criminal underworld, politics and tabloid journalism.

Apparently Musso is a bestselling author in his native France and it was not hard to see why. Captivating, enthralling and a fantastic read, The Reunion was a top notch thriller and I cannot wait to read more.

I would like to thank WN Books for a copy of The Reunion to read and review and to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers to read and review.

About the author

Guillaume Musso is the #1 bestselling author in France, and his novels have been translated in forty languages and have sold over 33 million copies worldwide. He was born in Antibes, South of France, and currently lives in Paris.


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