#Blogtour The Girl In The Maze by Cathy Hayward @CathyHayward7 @AgoraBooksLDN #TheGirlInTheMaze

Agora Books October 28th 2021

The Blurb

I would caution you against delving into the past. The past is often best left exactly where it is.’
Emma Bowen has never had a close relationship with her mother, barely speaking with her in the last years of her life. But after her mother’s death, Emma finds something that might just explain the distance between them.
Discovering letters between her mother and grandmother, it seems to Emma that her mother has always been difficult.
As she searches for answers about her own childhood, Emma is drawn into the mystery of her mother’s enigmatic life. The more she finds, the more lost she feels, but Emma is determined to uncover her mother’s past, and the secrets held within it, whatever the cost.
An enthralling story of three women, generations apart, linked by one terrible tragedy.

My Review

The death of a relative always seems to open up a huge can of worms that can never be put back in the tin and so it proved for Emma. The death of her mother Margaret sent her and us the reader into the past, to an era where children born out of wedlock were shunned, mother’s derided for being ‘loose’ the father never the one at fault.

Indeed the opening chapter of The Girl In The Maze made for uncomfortable reading, yet Hayward had a reason, one that saw Emma’s grandmother feel the full of force of her own mothers scorn, the desperation that Betty felt at her situation. But Hayward balanced that with love, tenderness and hope, of the possibilities that might lay ahead.

Those possibilities would have ramifications for Margaret and indeed for Emma who wanted to know why their relationship was always so strained, the birth of Emma’s own daughter the final straw as they finally lost touch.

What I liked was Haywards ability to convey the hurt that each of these women felt at their treatment, how it transferred down the line. the same mistakes made, an end never in sight. They all had courage, bravery, society the one common barrier, the whispers behind backs, the homes women were sent to, forced adoptions all played their part. I loved that Hayward gave Emma determination and courage to buck the trend, to not stop until she had all the answers no matter what it meant for her on a personal level.

The answers themselves were unpleasant, shame, avoidance, the brushing under the carpet of actions, events that would rock the boat hastily ignored. For Emma it was a truth that mattered, that finally gave her some form of closure, of new beginnings and an appreciation of her own family.

Hayward’s sensitive handling of the themes was to be admired, their place in the novel timely and relevant and not used for mere drama or shock factor. Yes they may act as triggers for some readers, but it was a novel that informed, that wove a powerful story in a wonderful way.

I would like to thank Agora Books for a copy of The Girl In The Maze to read and review and for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour

About the author

Cathy Hayward trained as a journalist and edited a variety of trade publications, several of which were so niche they were featured on Have I Got News for You. She then moved into the world of PR and set up an award-winning communications agency. Devastated and inspired in equal measure by the
death of her parents in quick succession, Cathy completed The Creative Writing Programme with New Writing South out of which emerged her debut novel The Girl in the Maze about the experience of mothering and being mothered. It won Agora Books’ Lost the Plot Work in Progress Prize 2020 and was longlisted for the Grindstone Literary Prize 2020.
When she’s not writing (or reading) in her local library, Cathy loves pottering in second-hand bookshops, hiking and wild camping. She lives in Brighton – sandwiched between the Downs and the sea – with her husband, three children, and two rescue cats – one of whom thinks he’s a do.


#Blogtour The Cheltenham Literature Festival @midaspr @CheltLitFest

I was lucky enough to be contacted by Midas Publication Relations and asked if I would like to participate in the blogtour to promote the Cheltenham Literature Festival. As a past visitor how could I say no, and to receive a surprise book by one of the authors attending the festival was an added bonus.

My book was Luster by Raven Leilani which I will be taking on my upcoming holiday. Check out the blurb and author details below. She will be appearing at the Festival on Saturday 16th October. Follow the link for all the details


Book cover for 9781529035988
Picador January 21st 2021.

The Blurb

Winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize 2021

Longlisted for the Women’s Prize For Fiction 2021

The Sunday Times Bestseller

‘A book of pure fineness, exceptional.’ Diana Evans, Guardian

‘A giddy joy, crafted with mischievous perfection.‘ Mail on Sunday

Edie is just trying to survive. She’s messing up in her dead-end admin job in her all-white office, is sleeping with all the wrong men, and has failed at the only thing that meant anything to her, painting. No one seems to care that she doesn’t really know what she’s doing with her life beyond looking for her next hook-up. And then she meets Eric, a white, middle-aged archivist with a suburban family, including a wife who has sort-of-agreed to an open marriage and an adopted black daughter who doesn’t have a single person in her life who can show her how to do her hair. As if navigating the constantly shifting landscape of sexual and racial politics as a young black woman wasn’t already hard enough, with nowhere else left to go, Edie finds herself falling head-first into Eric’s home and family.

Razor sharp, provocatively page-turning and surprisingly tender, Luster by Raven Leilani is a painfully funny debut about what it means to be young now.

A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: Guardian, New York TimesNew YorkerBoston GlobeLiterary HubVanity FairLos Angeles TimesGlamourTimeGood HousekeepingInStyle, NPR, O Magazine, BuzzfeedElectric LiteratureTown & CountryWiredNew StatesmanVoxShelf Awarenessi-D, BookPage and more.

One of Barack Obama’s Favourite Books of 2020

Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize, the PEN/Hemingway Award.

About the author

Raven Leilani

Raven Leilani’s work has been published in GrantaMcSweeney’s Quarterly Concern and The Cut, among other publications. Leilani received her MFA from NYU and is currently the Axinn Foundation Writer in Residence there. Luster is her first novel.

#Blogtour The Rabbit Factor by Antii Tuomainen @antti_tuomainen @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours

Orenda Books October 28th 2021

The Blurb

Award-winning author Antti Tuomainen launches his first series with The Rabbit Factor, an energetic black comedy, currently being adapted for the screen by Amazon/Mandeville Films with Steve Carell to star, and Antti executive producing.
What makes life perfect? Insurance mathematician Henri Koskinen knows the answer because he calculates everything down to the very last decimal. Until he is faced with the incalculable, after a series of unforeseeable events.
After suddenly losing his job, Henri inherits an adventure park from his brother – its peculiar employees and troubling financial problems included. The worst of the financial issues appear to originate from big loans taken from some dangerous men who are very keen to get their money back.
All improbable and complicated problems. But what Henri really can’t compute is love. In the adventure park, Henri crosses
paths with Laura, a happy-go-lucky artist with a chequered past, whose erratic lifestyle bewilders him. As the criminals go to increasingly extreme lengths to collect their debts and as Henri’s relationship with Laura deepens, he finds himself faced with situations and emotions that simply cannot be pinned down on his spreadsheets.

My Review

If Tuomainen hadn’t informed me that Henri was 42 I would have guessed he was in his 50’s. Why? His whole demeanour was that of a much older, but definitely not wiser man. Tuomainen gave him set routines, a life ruled by endless mathematical calculations as to the probability of outcomes, in other words a controlled and constrained existence.

At times it was funny, those tense nervous moments when a normal individual would just get on with it, Henri, stopped and calculated before proceeding. At other times it was frustrating, and I often found myself furious, wanting to shout at him.

Yet Tuomainen had a purpose, one that saw Henri lose his job as an actuary and to his and our amazement inherit an adventure park. The questions we now asked ourselves were just how would Henri cope, the clamouring noise and chaos of children, parents, and the staff with their myriad of idiosyncrasies. As if that wasn’t enough, Tuomainen added a few wonderful criminals, criminals who were owed money, who would stop at nothing to get it back.

You prepared yourself for a Henri on the run, the uncertainty an absolute killer. Instead here was a Henri who continually surprised, who literally mathematically calculated his way through the numerous encounters with Lizard Man, AJ and the big boss.

At times it was comical, cinnamon buns, wheel barrows and freezers all part of Henri’s new experiences. I never sensed any fear, just an unwavering intellect, a certainty that mathematics would always provide the answer.

Of course it wasn’t all criminals and dark moments, Tuomainen didn’t forget that lurking underneath Henri’s stern exterior was a new softer man just waiting to emerge.

What better way than for Tuomainen to access than Laura, general manager of the park, a hidden past, a talented artist. They made a brilliant working team, but on a personal level the careful tiptoeing around each other, their thoughts and feelings went unsaid. I wanted to knock their heads together, but knew it would be in vain until Tuomainen decided their fate and I had to temper my impatience. Typically the course of true love never runs smoothly and Tuomainen certainly made them and ourselves wait to discover if love conquered all.

I loved Tuomainen’s mix of the serious and the funny, of physical violence versus intelligent and strategic thought, and if a man who discovered that life could and would be so much different from what he envisaged.

It will be interesting to see who the film company will cast as Henri, what the adventure park will look like and to finally see the giant rabbit with the damaged ear materialise on the screen.

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

About the author

Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author in 2013, the Finnish press crowned Tuomainen the ‘King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen was one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and his poignant, dark and hilarious The Man Who Died became an international bestseller, shortlisting for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards. A TV adaptation is in the works, and Jussi Vatanen (Man In Room 301) has just been announced as a leading role. Palm Beach Finland was an immense success, with Marcel Berlins (The Times) calling Tuomainen ‘the funniest writer in Europe’. His latest thriller, Little Siberia, was shortlisted for the CWA International Dagger, the Amazon Publishing/Capital Crime Awards and the CrimeFest Last Laugh Award, and won the Petrona Award for Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year. In total, Antti Tuomainen has been short- and longlisted for 12 UK awards.

#Blogtour Lemon by Kwon Yeo-Sun @HoZ_Books #Lemon #NotJustAnyBook YouDecide

Head Of Zeus October 7th 2021

The Blurb

In the summer of 2002, nineteen-year-old Kim Hae-on was murdered in what became known as the High School Beauty Murder. There were two suspects: Shin Jeongjun, who had a rock-solid alibi, and Han Manu, to whom no evidence could be pinned. The case went cold.

Seventeen years pass without justice, and the grief and uncertainty take a cruel toll on her younger sister, Da-on, in particular. Unable to move on with her life, Da-on tries in her own twisted way to recover some of what she’s lost, ultimately setting out to find the truth of what happened.

Told at different points in time from the perspectives of Da-on and two of Hae-on’s classmates, Lemon is a piercing psychological portrait that takes the shape of a crime novel and is a must-read novel of 2021.

My Review

If you asked me to categorise Lemon I would struggle, on the one hand a crime novel on the other contemporary fiction. But perhaps it is not for us to categorise but to merely enjoy what was a unique and singular examination of a crime and the grief and trauma it left behind.

The victim, Hae-on was, as the novel progressed, perhaps not a likeable character, self obsessed, lazy, aloof and the more I read the more I felt that she perhaps lay on a spectrum, her actions strange and out of the ordinary. I did wonder if it was the authors intention, or she was merely portraying a young woman who sought attention and perhaps this was reason for her murder. Whatever the reason it was her younger sister Da-on who drove the narrative, who Yeo-sun used so brilliantly, a young girl who took on the responsibility of looking after Hae-on until her death and then the aftermath, the grief, the unanswered questions that drove her to find the answers.

The interjection of school friends gave a differing perspective, one from the outside, of the relationship between the sisters, of the behaviour of Hae-on.

There were the possible perpetrators, armed with motive, one a mere spectator, and I continually found myself looking for the clues, attempted to guess just who it could be.

Yet I felt no frustration, no desperate need to know, just felt swept along with Yeo-sun’s wonderful narrative. The dissection of grief was profound, the consequences of questionable accusations more important than the answers we thought we wanted and needed.

The author left it for us to decide who we wanted the murderer to be and it was a refreshing and welcome change.

Am interesting, thought provoking and wonderful novel.

I would like to thank Head Of Zeus for a copy of Lemon to read and review and for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Kwon Yeo-sun

Kwon Yeo-sun is an award-winning Korean writer. She has won the Sangsang Literary Award, Oh Yeongsu Literature Award, Yi Sang Literary Prize, Hankook Ilbo Literary Award, Tong-ni Literature Prize and Lee Hyo-seok Literary Award. Lemon is her first novel to be published in the English language.

#Blogtour Bad Apples by Will Dean @willrdean @PointBlankCrime @annecater #RandomThingsTours #BadApples #TeamTuva

Point Blank Crime October 7th 2021

The Blurb

A murder
A resident of small-town Visberg is found decapitated in the forest
A festival
An isolated hilltop community celebrates ’Pan Night’ after the apple harvest
A race against time
As Visberg closes ranks, there could not be a worse time for Tuva Moodyson to arrive as deputy editor of the local newspaper. Tuva senses the scoop of her career, unaware perhaps that she is the story…
Set in Sweden’s Halloween season, when the forests are full of elk hunters and the town of Visberg is thick with the aroma of rotting fruit, BAD APPLES is a thrilling introduction for readers new to the series, and for die-hard #TeamTuva fans, a heart-stopping rollercoaster

My Review

Hands down the best thriller I have read in a very long time and in my opinion the best Will Dean Team Tuva novel yet.

Dean did not mess about and threw us straight into the action, a decapitated body and Tuva right at the centre. What more could she want as the new deputy editor of the local newspaper than a story quite literally thrown into her lap. But it wasn’t her usual haunt, Gavrid she found herself in but the small town of Visberg.

Visberg must have come from a very dark, hidden place in Dean’s imagination, a town you would not want to live in unless your character traits were off the wall and definitely not normal.

First there was the steepness of the hill at the towns entrance, a deterrent, a natural block. The town square, overshadowed by the statue of its greatest resident Alfred Edlund, the family that ruled with their wealth. The apple trees and the pervading smell of rotten apples would be a sense that stayed with me for a long time. The atmospheric narrative, mist that swirled, the forest that pressed down from all around was nothing but brilliant. Dean’s master stroke had to be its residents, the clock shop owner, the twins Cornelia and Alice, their hideous troll creations, the gaming twins, Margaret and Emil owners of the mysterious storage units, the shelf styled Sheriff, trumped up leader of the local neighbourhood watch. Above them all, the Edlunds who literally owned the town with their wealth, arms like tentacles that spread far and wide.

Dean thrust Tuva straight in as she battled for information on the dead resident, as she attempted to infiltrate the impenetrable wall that surrounded the town. Dean didn’t make it easy for the reader, multiple suspects, multiple motives. Then Pan Night their own particular Hallowe’en a night neither Tuva or the reader would forget. Again Dean pushed our imagination, the scenes bizarre, disturbing, the ending shocking.

More leads, more dead ends, Halloween night itself the catalyst for Dean’s finale, and a warning from this reader to be afraid, for your worst nightmare to be laid bare on the page, Dean’s narrative once again brutal, but somehow mesmerising, chilling, horrifying.

Would Tuva emerge from the nightmare, would we finally know the perpetrators, the truth?

Whatever you expected, Dean twisted, turned it around, the final page jaw dropping, this reader desperate for the next instalment.

Will Dean, you have surpassed yourself, Bad Apples was superb, no superlatives adequate to describe my feelings, my thoughts.

I would like to thank Point Blank Crime for a copy of Bad Apples to read and review and to Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

WILL DEAN grew up in the East Midlands and lived in nine different villages before the age of eighteen. His debut novel, Dark Pines, was selected for Zoe Ball’s Book Club, shortlisted for the Guardian Not the Booker prize and named a Daily Telegraph Book of the Year. The second Tuva Moodyson thriller, Red Snow, won ‘Best Independent Voice’ at the Amazon Publishing Readers’ Awards, 2019, and was longlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2020. The third novel, Black River, has been longlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2021. Rights for the series have been sold in eight territories (France, Germany, Italy, Holland, Poland, Czech Republic, China and Turkey). Will lives in Sweden where the Tuva Moodyson novels are set.
TV Rights to Dark Pines have been optioned by Lionsgate, the producers of Mad Men, with plans for a multi-part series featuring Tuva Moodyson.

#Blogtour Cold As Hell by Lilja Sigurdardottir @lilja1972 @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #ColdAsHell

Orenda Books October 28th 2021

The Blurb

With rights sold in 14 countries, Cold as Hell is the first in the riveting, atmospheric and beautifully plotted five-book series An Áróra Investigation, from one of Iceland’s bestselling crime writers.
Estranged sisters Áróra and Ísafold live in different countries, and are not on speaking terms. When their mother loses contact with Ísafold, Áróra reluctantly returns to Iceland to look for her. But she soon realizes that her sister isn’t avoiding her … she has disappeared, without a trace.
As she confronts Ísafold’s abusive, drug-dealing boyfriend Björn, and begins to probe her sister ’s reclusive neighbours – who have their own reasons for staying out of sight – Áróra is drawn into an ever-darker web of intrigue and manipulation.
Baffled by the conflicting details of her sister ’s life, and blinded by the shiveringly bright midnight sun of the Icelandic summer, Áróra enlists the help of police officer Daníel, to help her track her sister ’s movements, and tail Björn. But she isn’t the only one watching.

My Review

A new series, a new character to meet, a leap into the unknown but in the safe and capable hands of Sigurdardotti.

We were taken back to Iceland, a summer where darkness never truly arrived but Arora, duty bound, touched down to search for her missing sister, Isaford.

And what of Arora? Definitely feisty, confident in her looks, her obvious draw to the men around her, intelligent, and above all determined. She wasn’t without a softer side, guilt that she had abandoned her wayward sister, a duty to give their mother the answers she needed.

Police help is always invaluable and Daniel fitted that bill even if he was on holiday. I loved the electricity, the mutual attraction between Daniel and Arora Sigurdardottir injected, that perfect will they won’t they scenario that detracted from the investigation and I cannot wait to see how that will develop in the future.

The investigation itself was stacked full of potential leads, characters who could have been involved in Isafold’s disappearance. Bjorn, the boyfriend, drug dealer, abuser, definitely someone I did not like but for me not the prime suspect.

That was Isafold’s neighbour, Grimer, a man that Sigurdardottir packed full of mental health issues, a lurid past merely hinted at, and an ability to lurk amongst the shadows. I liked the deliberate way in which the author used him, gave him knowledge that no other character had, yet she shared it with the reader, but I still couldn’t decide if he was the guilty party or a mere red herring planted by Sigurdardottir.

I wasn’t sure how Sigurdardottir would chose to conclude the investigation and it was definitely not what I expected but I guess that was the point, to leave us and Arora in limbo, to have Arora decide that maybe Iceland with its potential job opportunities and new relationships could once again be home for a while.

I am hoping we will not be left in limbo for long as I cannot wait to revisit Iceland and discover in what direction and developments await Arora.

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

About the author

Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurðardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, her English debut shortlisting for the CWA International Dagger and hitting bestseller lists worldwide. Trap soon followed suit, with the third in the trilogy Cage winning the Best Icelandic Crime Novel of the Year, and was a Guardian Book of the Year. Lilja’s standalone Betrayal, was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award forBest Nordic Crime Novel. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures
in California. Lilja is also an award-winning screenwriter in her native Iceland.
She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.

#Blogtour The Shadowing by Rhiannon Ward @sarahrward1 @

Trapeze 16th September 2021

The Blurb

For fans of The Silent Companions and The Familiars, a propulsive gothic mystery that invites the reader to unlock the secrets of Nottinghamshire’s infamous Southwell workhouse.
When well-to-do Hester learns of her sister Mercy’s death at a Nottinghamshire workhouse, she travels to Southwell to find out how her sister ended up at such a place.Haunted by her sister’s ghost, Hester sets out to uncover the truth, when the official story reported by the workhouse master proves to be untrue. Mercy was pregnant – both her and the baby are said to be dead of cholera, but the workhouse hasn’t had an outbreak for years.Hester discovers a strange trend in the workhouse of children going missing. One woman tells her about the Pale Lady, a ghostly figure that steals babies in the night. Is this lady a myth or is something more sinister afoot at the Southwell poorhouse?As Hester investigates, she uncovers a conspiracy, one that someone is determined to keep a secret, no matter the cost…

My Review

Imagine having ghostly apparitions appear in your eyeline, apparitions that could signal something wrong, something that would affect your very being. This was the case for Hester, young, bound by Quaker traditions and a father who ruled the house with an iron fist, and a mother who bowed to her husbands every wish and command.

Ward gave her a life that tottered along, the elopement of her sister, Mercy the only major disruption, yet a letter that announced Mercy’s death and a journey to Nottingham, a stay with her mothers friend Dorothy to find answers gave her the jolt she needed to open her eyes, to broaden her mind.

Ward certainly did that in more ways than one, the journey itself, a new and not altogether pleasant experience. I loved Ward’s vivid descriptions of the salubrious inns, the passengers she met along the way as she slowly left her sheltered life behind.

Ward didn’t stop there, and her arrival at The Black Griffin Inn with no Dorothy to greet her put Hester at the mercy of its owner, Matthew, a gruff man, who eyed her with suspicion. Her subsequent questions and need for directions to Southwell Union poor house appeared to set off alarm bells, and you could imagine the ripples it would have sent around the town. Yet Hester was a woman who was not be perturbed, half driven by a need for answers but also a naivety that Ward instilled within, the danger always ever present, the shadowings never far away. Did she find the answers? It appeared so, was this the end, apparently not as Ward had far much more instore

A return journey to Nottingham, a stay with Dorothy and her daughter Caroline and twice weekly visitations to Southwell Union sparked a chain of events that had a wonderful ghoulish, chilly feel to them. The shadowings became more intense, the danger more apparent, the answers altogether too much to contemplate. She threw in the most wonderful characters, the addled, addicted drug Dr Bant, the handsome Doctor Edward but most importantly the women who resided in the poorhouse. You felt sorry for their plight, for their treatment, willed Hester onwards to bring justice.

We were never quite sure who the culprits would be, I went backwards and forwards multiple times, as I attempted to pick up on Ward’s clue. Did I guess correctly? I got one right but in no way did I see the second, which made it all the more shocking, the greed, selfishness and complete disregard for others this character harboured was beyond imaginable but made sense and Ward gave them a suitably fitting ending.

What concerned most was Hester’s ending and Ward did not disappoint, in fact it left me with the higest grin and feelings of great satisfaction.

I would like to thank Trapeze for a copy of Shadowing to read and review and to Compulsive Readers for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour

About the author

Sarah Ward Finals 05 2021-3

Rhiannon Ward is the pseudonym for Sarah Ward, the bestselling and critically acclaimed crime author. Sarah has a masters degree in Religious History and has long been fascinated by the long tradition of spiritualism in England and is a member of the Institute of Psychical Research. Sarah is also a crime reviewer and book blogger at Crime Pieces.

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