#Blogtour Black Reed Bay by Rod Reynolds @Rod_WR @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #BlackReedBay

Orenda Books September 2nd 2021

The Blurb

When a young woman makes a distressing middle-of-the-night call to 911, apparently running for her life in a quiet, exclusive beachside neighbourhood, miles from her home, everything suggests a domestic incident.
Except no one has seen her since, and something doesn’t sit right with the officers at Hampstead County PD. With multiple suspects and witnesses throwing up startling inconsistencies, and interference from the top threatening the integrity of the investigation, lead detective Casey Wray is thrust into an increasingly puzzling case that looks like it can have only one
ending.
And then the first body appears, and Casey’s investigation plunges her into a darkness she could never have imagined…

Black Reed Bay introduces a breathtaking, powerful and addictive new series, fronted by the fantastic Detective Casey Wray, from the CWA-nominated author of Blood Red City and The Dark Inside.

My Review

Reynold’s Casey Wray, otherwise known as Big was my kind of female cop, strong determined, full of sass yet she still retained an underlying vulnerability, the odd lack of confidence and fear. Reynolds brilliantly portrayed a woman who had fought hard to get where she was, despite the knocks, the sexism from male colleagues along the way.

If she had fought hard for her current position then Reynolds didn’t make her new investigation easy, a missing woman, a questionable unreliable set of suspects and characters and a family she took to her heart who she needed to discover the answers for.

There was definitely no preamble as Reynolds plunged us and Wray headlong into the missing Tina Gray. The vision of a young woman distressed, knocking on doors seeking safety as she weaved along a dark desolate road was a precursor to the vivid imaginary throughout the whole of the novel.

Black Reed Bay itself, felt unfriendly, inhospitable as you felt the wind whip at Wray’s face, and when the bodies started to turn up, Reynolds narrative sent a veritable shiver down your spine.

The intricacies of the investigation were complex, the layers many and the obstacles placed in Wray’s way numerous. At times you felt Wray’s frustration, the thought she was hitting a brick wall as she questioned her own boss’s motives, had to decide where her own loyalties lay. Her partner Cullen was her rock, her polar opposite and I loved the banter and deep down mutual respect Reynolds gave them. Tragedy was never far away yet Reynolds gave Wray a resilience that you admired, made you will her on to get to a successful ending.

And what an ending, a big yes to Reynolds for the hold your breath exhilaration of those final scenes, of betrayal, but ultimately justice and answers for those that so desperately needed.

What a start to what will hopefully be a new series and the return of Casey ‘Big’ Wray. I have a feeling there are more complex’s and equally intriguing investigations to follow. Am I correct Mr Rod Reynolds?

I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of Black Reed Bay to read and review and to Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Rod Reynolds is the author of four novels, including the Charlie Yates series.
His 2015 debut, The Dark Inside, was longlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger,
and was followed by Black Night Falling (2016) and Cold Desert Sky (2018);
the Guardian has called the books ‘pitch-perfect American noir ’. A lifelong
Londoner, Rod’s first novel set in his hometown, entitled Blood Red City, was
published by Orenda Books in 2020.
Rod previously worked in advertising as a media buyer, and holds an MA in
novel writing from City University London. He lives with his wife and family and spends most of his time trying to keep up with his two young daughters. Follow him on Twitter @Rod_WR

#Blogtour The Storyteller Of Casablanca by Fiona Valpy @FionaValpy @AmazonPub #TheStorytellerOfCasablanca

Amazon Publishing September 21St 2021

The Blurb

Morocco, 1941. With France having fallen to Nazi occupation, twelve-year-old Josie has fled with her family to Casablanca, where they await safe passage to America. Life here is as intense as the sun, every sight, smell and sound overwhelming to the senses in a city filled with extraordinary characters. It’s a world away from the trouble back home—and Josie loves it.

Seventy years later, another new arrival in the intoxicating port city, Zoe, is struggling—with her marriage, her baby daughter and her new life as an expat in an unfamiliar place. But when she discovers a small wooden box and a diary from the 1940s beneath the floorboards of her daughter’s bedroom, Zoe enters the inner world of young Josie, who once looked out on the same view of the Atlantic Ocean, but who knew a very different Casablanca.

It’s not long before Zoe begins to see her adopted city through Josie’s eyes. But can a new perspective help her turn tragedy into hope, and find the comfort she needs to heal her broken heart?

My Review

The cover does not do justice to the wonderful story held within Valpy’s pages. To say I adored The Storyteller of Casablanca would be an understatement, I adored it, fell in love with its characters, Zoe and Josie, did not want to leave them as I turned the final page.

It was a story of a city at war, of a city in the present day, of its myriad of streets and alley ways, of the rich colour, of it’s culture and heritage. Valpy’s descriptions were off the scale, I wanted to be there, to feel the love that Zoe and Josie felt for it, for the people they encountered and the stories they told.

Most importantly it was the story of two women, women who lived in different times,yet the correlations, the similarities in their emotions bounced off the page. Their residence in the same house, the discovery by Zoe of Josie’s journal an opening to another world.

Zoe, the expat, there to start a new life with her husband and baby, to put the past behind them. Valpy left subtle clues of a trauma, one that didn’t reveal itself until near the end. It shocked and stunned me, but made sense, the pieces of Zoe’s jigsaw finally able to slot in place. Josie’s journal took her away from her own troubles, opened her eyes to a Casablanca far away from the tourist trail. The more she read the more Valpy took Zoe on journey to discover what happened to Josie,

Josie, the refugee, ensconced with her family in a comfortable home, as they awaited documents to flee to a new life in America. Her journal, her voice and outlet for everything that happened, for her thoughts, her emotions had me spellbound. Valpy gave her incredible insight and maturity for one so young, yet there was always the hint of vulnerability and innocence. Her friendship with Nina and Felix was wonderful, but it was her relationship with her Papa I loved most of all. Valpy gave them such a deep and touching connection, as Papa risked his life to assist with the resistance, Josie his unwitting but willing assistant who understood more than her years.

As the risks intensified for Josie Valpy simultaneously increased the self doubt and questioning for Zoe and it felt as if their individual stories would reach a conclusion at the same time. To some extent they did but Valpy don’t let it end there instead the pages that followed were full of emotion, of tenderness, of tears not only from the characters but also this reader.

It was a beautiful heart rending conclusion, full of hope, respect and the prospect of a future even if obstacles stood in the way.

The Storyteller of Casablanca was beautifully written, full of historical detail and wonderful characters, and I do hope Valpy that’s the recognition she so richly deserves for a such a stunning novel.

I would like to thank Amazon Publishing for a copy of The Storyteller of Casablanca to read and review and for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Fiona spent seven years living in France, having moved there from the UK in 2007, before returning to live in Scotland. Her love for both of these countries, their people and their histories, has found its way into the books she’s written.

She draws inspiration from the stories of strong women, especially during the years of the Second Word War, and her meticulous historical research enriches her writing with an evocative sense of time and place.

An acclaimed Number 1 bestselling author, Fiona Valpy’s books have been translated into more than a dozen languages worldwide.

#Blogtout The Couple at Number 9 by Claire Douglas @Dougieclaire @MichaelJBooks #TheCoupleAtNo9

The Couple at No 9
Michael Joseph August 19th 2021

The Blurb

BODIES FOUND UNDER PATIO

When pregnant Saffron Cutler moves into 9 Skelton Place with boyfriend Tom and sets about renovations, the last thing she expects is builders uncovering a body. Two bodies, in fact.

POLICE INVESTIGATE

Forensics indicate the bodies have been buried at least thirty years, which leads the police to question the cottage’s former owner – Saffy’s grandmother, Rose.

OWNER QUESTIONED

Rose’s Alzheimer’s means her memory is increasingly confused. She can’t help the police – but it is clear she remembers something.

A KILLER AT LARGE?

As Rose’s fragmented memories resurface, and the police dig ever deeper, Saffy fears she and the cottage are being watched . . .

What happened thirty years ago?
What part did her grandmother play?
And is Saffy now in danger? . . .

My Review

Oh my word, there were more twist and turns within Douglas’s pages than the twisty of twisty rollercoasters. Just when you thought you and indeed Saffy and Lorna had worked it out, Douglas changed her mind and threw us back into confusion and questions.

There was no preamble just straight into the core of the novel as two bodies were dug up in Saffy’s garden. Who were they and how did they end up there?

That was a question Saffy and her Mum desperately wanted to know but what if it meant hurtling back into the past, to events and emotions that had long lain suppressed.

This was definitely the strength of Douglas’s novel, little interaction from the police but more of the human, emotional side of an investigation. Told in the alternate voices of Saffy, Lorna and more importantly Saffy s beloved grandmother Rose it felt all that more personal and intimate. Rose’s narrative in particular stood out, elderly, resident of a care home, dementia slowly eating away at her memory and recollections. Yet it didn’t feel frustrating to myself or indeed Lorna and Saffy. In fact it made them even more determined to discover the truth and this is where Douglas’s rollercoaster came into effect. The myriad of avenues explored led to dead ends but also to a mending of relationships, of new acquaintances and finally the answers were all wanted to know.

The answers were disturbing, shocking, the motives complex, profound and the one thing you hoped for above all else was justice for the wronged.

I loved that Douglas included an epilogue as so often you are left wondering what happened to the characters left behind, the victims and if they found peace and closure.

I would like to thank Michael Joseph for a copy of The Couple At No9 to read and review and for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

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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, Do Not Disturb, Then She Vanishes and Just Like the Other Girls. She lives in Bath with her husband and two children.

#Blogtour Ghostlights by Grainne Murphy @GraMurphy @legend_times #TheGhostlights

Legend Press September 1st 2021

The Blurb

Can anyone really choose to be forgotten?

An elderly gentleman checks into a B&B in a small village in rural Ireland where he knows nobody. Four days later, his body is found in the lake.

The identity of their unknown guest raises questions for one family in particular, twin sisters Liv and Marianne, and their mother, Ethel, each of whom is searching for her own place in the world.

The Ghostlights brilliantly evokes the lives of the people in the town and explores the aftershocks of a stranger’s tragedy. What is identity? And strangerhood? What is the meaning of home, and what power do we have over whether or not we are remembered?

My Review

The last eighteen months have been difficult but one shining light has been the emergence of some very fine Irish authors, Murphy part of that clan.

A small Irish Town, and a family of strong determined women would always be a win win for me. Ethel, the matriarch, owner of their Bed and Breakfast yet doing a great job at falling apart. Any excuse to visit the local pub, drunken nights spent sleeping in nearby fields or the beach which at first seemed humorous but then sad.

Liv and Marianne, twins, stubborn, determined, their life paths so completely different which Murphy used to great effect, their clashes full of anger, and recriminations.

Liv was the one that stayed behind, ran the B&B, dealt or rather swept her mothers alcoholism under the carpet and somehow failed to understand her son Shay.

Marianne, the twin who fled after the death of their father, hellbent on a different life. Yet Murphy showed a woman who felt left out, blinkered to the real issues of her family, her love life at a crossroads.

For good measure Murphy gave us Fred the elderly guest, at first passing encounters, before a sad end in the local lake. He was, Murphy’s catalyst, the one that opened the floodgates to self examination, to home truths, and a search for a man’s family. Was what Liv, Marianne and Ethel currently had what they really wanted? What about their actions toward one another, their closeness as a family.

Murphy brilliantly unraveled it all and made it all the more gripping and interesting in her use of the characters own voices. Their assumptions of one another, their misreading of situations all keenly realised. You felt their frustration, in fact it made me quite frustrated at times when I too wanted to scream at them to just talk to each other.

When they did start to talk Murphy didn’t go down the tried and tested, let’s all be happy route. She made you realise that talking was the first step, that time would be the one thing that would bond and bring the family back together. It would never be all hearts and flowers, it would still have its issues, but there would be greater respect, not only of each other but also of events and circumstances around them.

I admired Murphy’s narrative the emotion she injected from anger to despair always driving her characters actions and thoughts. The Irish landscape, the small town mentality were seamlessly interwoven, the modern with traditional, the clash of rural versus city ideas and influences. Above all it was her characters that shone , that made The Ghostlights a most wonderful and exemplary novel.

I would like to thank Legend Press of a copy of The Ghostlights to read and review and for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

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Gráinne Murphy grew up in rural west Cork, Ireland. At university she studied Applied Psychology and forensic research, then worked for a number of years in Human Resources. In 2011 she moved with her family to Brussels, where she lived for 5 years. She has now returned to West Cork, working as a self-employed language editor specialising in human rights and environmental issues.  Gráinne has received a number of award shortlistings and longlistings for her writing including the Irish Writers’ Centre Novel Fair Award 2019, Blue Pencil Agency First Novel Award 2019, Caledonia Novel Award 2019, Virginia Prize for Fiction 2013 and the Bath Novel Award 2015.

Follow Gráinne on:

Twitter @GraMurphy
Instagram @gramurphywriter

#Blogtour Next Of Kin by Kia Abdullah @KiaAbdullah @HQstories @SianBaldwin #NextOfKin

HQ September 2nd 2021

The Blurb

On an ordinary working day…

Leila Syed receives a call that cleaves her life in two. Her brother-in-law’s voice is filled with panic. His son’s nursery have called to ask where little Max is.

Your worst nightmare…

Leila was supposed to drop Max off that morning. But she forgot.

Racing to the carpark, she grasps the horror of what she has done. Max has been locked in her car for several hours on the hottest day of the year.

Is about to come true…

But she’s too late.

What follows is an explosive, high-profile trial that will tear the family apart. But as the case progresses it becomes clear there’s more to this incident than meets the eye…

A gripping, brave and tense courtroom drama, Next of Kin will keep you on the edge of your seat until the final, heart-stopping page.

My Review

On the outside they were the perfect family, two sisters, Leila and Yasmin both married, in and out of each other’s homes, until tragedy. Max, Yasmin’s son was dead and it’s it was all Leila’s fault or was it?

It gave Abdullah the perfect opportunity to puncture the glossy veneer and dive deep below the surface of a sisterly relationship that relied heavily on assumptions and jealousy. Leila, childless, separated from husband Will, envious of Yasmin.

Yasmin, seemingly happily married, mother to Max, yet not quite as wealthy or successful as Leila.

It became apparent both wanted what the other had and Abdullah brilliantly pulled apart those wants and those desires. Yet she also left you with a nagging doubt as to the circumstances surrounding Max’s death. I loved how she used Detective Shep to ask the pointed questions, to query the evidence, to make the characters squirm uncomfortably under his attention.

Abdullah excelled as she placed Leila on trial, the narrative superbly captured the body language, the scrutiny and the questioning. You were never quite sure in which direction Abdullah would send the jury, and indeed the rest of the novel.

I was lulled into a false sense of security before Abdullah hit with some fascinating and shocking revelations yet not a shock to Shep, who sat and waited patiently for it all to unravel before him, the characters their own worst enemies.

It wasn’t perhaps the ending you expected but it felt right not only to me as the reader but also for Max, for the loss of an innocent little boy who should have been able to enjoy his life were it not for the mess the adults made as a consequence of their actions and assumptions.

About the author

Kia Abdullah is an author and travel writer from London. Her novel Take It Back was named one of the best thrillers of the year by The Guardian and Telegraph and was selected for an industry-first audio serialisation by HarperCollins and The Pigeonhole. The follow-up, Truth Be Told, has been long-listed for a Diverse Book Award. Her new novel, Next of Kin, is out now. 

Kia has written for The New York TimesThe GuardianThe FTThe Telegraphthe BBCand The Times, and is the founder of Asian Booklist, a nonprofit that advocates for diversity in publishing. 

Born in Tower Hamlets in East London, Kia was raised in a family of eight children. As the most stubborn of six daughters, she constantly found herself in trouble for making choices that clashed with her parents’, a habit they came to accept when she became their first and only child to graduate from university – with a degree in Computer Science.

In 2007, Kia left her job in tech to pursue the one thing she had always wanted: a career as a writer, taking a 50% pay cut in the process. She worked as sub-editor and later features editor at Asian Woman Magazine where she interviewed British-Asian luminaries like Riz Ahmed, Meera Syal, Nitin Sawnhey and Anoushka Shankar. 

Kia went on to join global publisher Penguin Random House where she helped grow digital readership at Rough Guides to over a million users per month. In 2014, she quit her day job to found Atlas & Boots, an outdoor travel blog now read by 250,000 people a month. 

Today, she splits her time between London and the Yorkshire Dales town of Richmond, and spends her time writing, hiking, mentoring pupils from Tower Hamlets and visiting far-flung destinations for Atlas & Boots.

Kia loves to travel, hates to cook and periodically highlights that, in actual fact, she is one of nine children (one passed away), making her Seven of Nine… which is cool but only if you’re a Star Trek fan… which she is. But please don’t hold it against her. Have a look around, say hi on Twitter or Instagram and if you’re feeling really nice buy her new n

#Blogtour I Am The Sea by Matt Stanley @legend_times #MattStanley #IAmTheSea

Legend Press August 17th 2021

The Blurb

1870. Apprentice lighthouseman James Meakes joins two others at the remote offshore rock of Ripsaw Reef – replacement for a keeper whose death there remains unexplained.

Meakes’ suspicions grow as he accustoms himself to his new vertical world. He finds clues, obscure messages and signs that a fourth occupant may be sharing the space, slipping unseen between staircases.

With winter approaching, the keepers become isolated utterly from shore. Sea and wind rage against the tower. Danger is part of the life. Death is not uncommon. And yet as the storm builds, the elements pale against a threat more wild and terrifying than any of them could have imagined.

My Review

A lighthouse in the middle of the sea, the beam of the light pulsating in the darkness, the waves crashing at its base, three men its keepers, locked together, simmering tensions, ghostly apparitions, a tantilising prospect for a novel that promised and delivered so much.

It largely centered around apprentice keeper, James Meakes, orphaned, largely raised by his uncle in a psychiatric community that Stanley hinted had a more profound effect than we at first realised. He walked into a veritable melting pot, underlying tensions between the principle and assistant keeper rippled throughout, Meakes, the middle man, poised to learn yet unsure of what lay ahead.

Stanley did not descend his characters into a sudden whirlwind of recriminations and actions, instead it was gradual, words used to sow the seeds of doubt, missing items, subtle actions that left Meakes questioning his own mind. We had glimpses of his past, suggestions of a mental illness, a mysterious death. How reliable was our narrator, was he really an innocent or just a victim? I never did make my mind up, and ultimately felt it was a mixture of the two, a credit to Stanley who really made me think and question his narrative as events descended into violence, as a storm lashed against the lighthouse walls.

It was Stanley’s narrative that excelled above all else, the menace he managed to intertwine, the suggestive asides, the haunting isolation, suspicion, the close proximity of the three men, escape impossible that raised the stakes that much higher.

The outcome was non the less haunting and the imagery for those final scenes were somehow chilling and uncomfortable but perfectly in keeping with the novel as a whole.

I Am The Sea was uniquely different, a psychological examination of the human mind, of isolation that was deeply and wonderfully affecting.

I would like to thank Legend Times for a copy of I Am The Sea to read and review and for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

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Matt Stanley was born in Sheffield and achieved a first class degree in English and American Literature from the University of East Anglia. He is the author of a number of detective novels for Macmillan and has previously taught an MA in Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam University. I am the Sea is Matt’s eleventh novel.

Follow Matt on Instagram @mattstanleyauthor

#Blogtour Wolf In The Woods by Dan Brotzel @danbrotzel_fiction @SandstonePress @nikitorch #TheWolfInTheWoods

Sandstone Press

The Blurb

Colleen and Andrew haven’t had sex in eleven weeks and three days [not that anyone’s counting]. Their marriage is in crisis, they’re drinking too much and both have secrets they’re afraid to share.

A teetotal week in a remote cottage could solve all their problems. But with the promised beach nowhere in sight, a broken-down car and a sinister landlord, they may not find it so easy to rekindle their romance. In this dark and funny novel, tensions build and tempers fray.

My Review

I read the blurb and started The Wolf In The Woods with certain expectations, prepared for a novel about the disintegration of a marriage. Indeed, that was true but I found to my delight I had to throw my preconceived ideas out of the window as the way in which Brotzel approached the themes were utterly original

You immediately felt the tension between Colleen and Andrew, the simmering words that lay unsaid below the surface, the car journey the perfect tool for Brotzel to set the scene, the battle lines drawn. The remote cottage set in the woods, the broken down car, the strange owners Wolf and Hildi created a tantalising maelstrom of mystery, but also left me feeling I was stranded in the fairytale Hansel and Gretel. Who was the mysterious Wolf, how did he know so much about Colleen and Andrew?

And what about Colleen and Andrew, a couple with so many issues? I loved how Brotzel made them opposites, Colleen dynamic, bored with Andrew, a life elsewhere never far from her mind. Andrew, stuck in a rut, petrified Colleen would disappear, desperate to reignite his marriage. Brotzel gave them secrets, joint and separate each terrified the other would find out.

And that is what was so clever about Brotzel’s use of Wolf. How did he know what occurred between them, the secrets, the conversations, the torrid alcohol fuelled arguments. He was their conscience, the little voice that niggled in their brains, opened their eyes to the destruction they rained on each other, and made for fascinating and at times tense reading.

There was always an air of menace, the thought that maybe Wolf was some mad axe murderer, his guests his blissfully ignorant victims, and I loved that the author left us guessing, unsure of what his final actions would be.

The truth was perhaps not what I expected but made perfect sense and Willie and Hilda’s secrets were just as intriguing.

Wolf In The Woods was a surprising and uniquely different novel that I thoroughly enjoyed and look forward to Brotzel’s next foray into the world of fiction.

I would like to thank Sandstone Press for a copy of The Wolf In The Woods to read and review and for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Dan Brotzel’s short stories have won awards and been published widely, with Hotel Du Jack, his first full-length collection, published in 2019. He is also co-author of a comic novel-in-emails about an eccentric writers’ group, Work in Progress (Unbound). The Wolf in the Woods is his debut novel.

Dan lives in London with his partner Eve and their three children.

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