#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

Image

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

Gráinne_Murphy_9_Oct_2019.jpg

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

DSCF3073.jpeg

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.

#Blogtour Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian @sanjenasathian @simonschusterUK @simonschusterPR @annecater #RandomThingsTours

Simon Schuster UK gust 19th 2021

The Blurb

ANYONE CAN BE EXTRAORDINARY. BUT IT COMES AT A PRICE…

Neil Narayan’s parents moved to America for a better life, and his perfect older sister is now headed to an elite university. Neil is funny and smart, but he is not living up to his parents’ dream. While he tries to want their version of success, mostly, Neil just wants his neighbour across the street, Anita Dayal.

Once a lot like Neil, Anita is truly thriving academically, athletically and socially. Anita has a secret: she and her mother Anjali have been brewing an ancient alchemical potion from stolen gold that harnesses the ambition of the jewellery’s original owner. Anita just needs a little boost to get into Harvard. When Neil – who needs a whole lot more – stumbles onto their secret and joins in the plot, events spiral into a tragedy that rips their community apart.

Ten years later, Neil is an oft-stoned history grad student studying the California gold rush. Anita has given up her high-flying tech career and is working as an event planner, just for now. Anjali, the woman who gave them both so much, is in trouble, and only gold can save her. What choice do Anita and Neil have but to pull off one last heist?

Gold Diggers is a dazzling coming-of-age story that speaks to anyone who ever wondered quite how they belong, and who ever dreamed of being the very best they could be.

My Review

Gold diggers would, I am sure, resonate with many who have made the move from one country to another in the hopes of a better future. For Neil it was all about the expectation, the constant pressure from parents to live up to their dream of the perfect education, marriage, the American dream. Did Neil want and even live up to that American Dream?

Neil didn’t appear to be fulfilling his potential, no matter how hard he tried nothing was good enough, his sister the star. And that is where the trouble or indeed the real crux of the novel lay and what a brilliant job, Sathian did in showing a young teenager exploring his own culture and the complete misalignment with America.

As high school progressed so did his up and down relationship with neighbour, Anita. He was a teenager besotted and it was an admiration that never left but when Neil came across strange goings on in her mothers basement, it became even more interesting. The bubbling pot on the stove, the mutterings of ancient words had my imagination whirling into overdrive. You felt the same astonishment as Neil when the goings on were explained, you felt his belief in the old ways, ways that would bring him the success he needed and indeed the admiration of his parents. Of course it was never going to be plain sailing and as their paths diverged and they lost touch Neil’s obsession with gold and the gold rush became the tool by which Sathian examined in more detail his juxtaposition in life. Sathian gave us the early immigrants treated with suspicion, with scorn, punished because their intelligence, determination, brought them wealth but never respect. But had anything really changed? Did Neil and Anita find it any easier? For Sathian that was a definite no, the prejudice, the expectation, the work ethic was still altogether so much more than the average American. It was no wonder that the two characters lost their way, forged headlong into a gold heist driven by misguided traditions and a need to save themselves and those around them. It provided a suitably hair raising and exhilarating finale.

Gold diggers was that perfect dissection of the big American Dream, of a clash of cultures, of parents only wanting the best for their children. The children themselves were the ones caught in the middle, never destined to please anyone, forced to ride the waves until finally clarity and that feeling that maybe what they really needed to do was find their own success and happiness no matter what that may have been.

I would like to thank Simon Schuster U.K. for a copy of Gold Digger to read and review and to Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Sanjena Sathian is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, an alumna of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop, and a former Paul and Daisy Soros Fellow. She has also worked as a journalist in San Francisco and in Mumbai.

Her award winning short fiction appears in Conjunctions, Boulevard, Joyland, Salt Hill, and The Master’s Review. She’s written nonfiction for The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Vox, TIME, Food and Wine, and more.

She has taught creative writing to high school, college, graduate, and post-graduate level students in Iowa, Alaska, India, and New Zealand.

#Blogtour A Narrow Door by Joanne Harris @Joannechocolat @orionbooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #CompulsiveReaders #ANarrowDoor

Orion August 4th 2021

The Blurb

Now I’m in charge, the gates are my gates. The rules are my rules.

It’s an incendiary moment for St Oswald’s school. For the first time in its history, a headmistress is in power, the gates opening to girls.

Rebecca Buckfast has spilled blood to reach this position. Barely forty, she is just starting to reap the harvest of her ambition. As the new regime takes on the old guard, the ground shifts. And with it, the remains of a body are discovered.

But Rebecca is here to make her mark. She’ll bury the past so deep it will evade even her own memory, just like she has done before. After all…

You can’t keep a good woman down.

My Review

Time to admit I haven’t read the other two St Oswald novels that make up the trilogy. Did it matter? Absolutely not, it never stopped my enjoyment nor did I feel I had missed anything that would have added more to the story.

And what of the story? Hugely interesting and intensely fascinating as new head of St Oswald’s, Becky threw open the doors to girls, merged with rival St Henry’s but most importantly carried the weight of the past on her shoulders.

An then a dead body, the catalyst to recriminations, to the past, but who did it belong to. Only one person knew, and were they going to reveal all or would it cost them and the school too much?

Harris brilliantly used Becky’s interactions with old classics master Roy Straitley, the traditional and the modern, locked in a battle of wills to solve a puzzle, to unravel the truth.

Becky was wonderfully complex, tough, determined that at first Harris made me hesitant, did I like her or not? Probably not to start with and then as we went back in time the real woman opened up, one blighted by the disappearance of her brother, her parents utter devotion to him and almost ignorance of her and her own troubles. It was where the psychology of trauma, of loss, of the minds ability to shut off what we cannot face came to the fore, as Harris played with Becky’s mind, her memory. I found it totally compelling and I started to feel empathy but there was always an undercurrent of something off kilter, of a woman who could or would not give into emotion, as if it were a weakness or perhaps if she did her whole world would fall apart. There was a harshness, an urge to emerge triumphant whatever the cost.

Harris made you think that bit more deeply, to question the male, female divide, the control we could have over others and indeed ourselves. Becky’s slow unlocking of her memory came with ghostly sighting, creaking of water pipes, of monsters that mired her childhood. It was a story of perception of a parents willingness to only see the good never the bullying, the damage being wrecked on another.

It was the story of a woman who, in her eyes triumphed not only over others but also herself and I had a grudging admiration for her even if she did have murderous intent.

I also admired Harris who ditched the lovely chocolate sweetness of her previous novels and plunged you into the disturbing psychological minds of her characters to create a truly immersive, intelligent and amazingly good read.

I would like to thank Orion for a copy of A Narrow Door to read and review and to Compulsive Readers for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

JOANNE HARRIS is an Anglo-French author, whose books include fourteen novels, two cookbooks and many short stories. Her work is extremely diverse, covering aspects of magic realism, suspense, historical fiction, mythology and fantasy. In 2000, her 1999 novel CHOCOLAT was adapted to the screen, starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. She is an honorary Fellow of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, and in 2013 was awarded an MBE by the Queen.

#Review We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz @andibartz @michaeljbooks @kalliereads #weeereneverhere

Michael J Books August 12th 2021

The Blurb

A backpacking trip has deadly consequences in this eerie psychological thriller.

Emily is having the time of her life—she’s in the mountains of Chile with her best friend, Kristen, on their annual reunion trip, and the women are feeling closer than ever. But on the last night of the trip, Emily enters their hotel suite to find blood and broken glass on the floor. Kristen says the cute backpacker she brought back to their room attacked her, and she had no choice but to kill him in self-defense. Even more shocking: The scene is horrifyingly similar to last year’s trip, when another backpacker wound up dead. Emily can’t believe it’s happened again—can lightning really strike twice?
Back home in Wisconsin, Emily struggles to bury her trauma, diving headfirst into a new relationship and throwing herself into work. But when Kristen shows up for a surprise visit, Emily is forced to confront their violent past. The more Kristen tries to keep Emily close, the more Emily questions her motives. As Emily feels the walls closing in on their cover-ups, she must reckon with the truth about her closest friend. Can Emily outrun the secrets she shares with Kristen, or will they destroy her relationship, her freedom—even her life?

My Review

Quoted as a slow burn thriller, I knew this would be the type of thriller I would like and I wasn’t disappointed. Bartz’s two main characters Emily and Kristen were wonderfully complex, Emily the less confident, perhaps more naive of the two, Kristen the dominant one.

Their trip to Chile seemed perfect until it wasn’t, until one dead backpacker hurriedly buried in a rocky outcrop and a lifetime of worry seemingly followed them back home. For Emily is appeared to be deja vu, so similar to her own trauma in Cambodia that it only seemed to increase her anxiety and worry. And this was where the novel really took off, as Bartz brilliantly used Emily’s voice to show a woman tied up in knots, who continually looked behind her shoulder waiting for the axe to fall.

You could feel her mind constantly whirling as Bartz made her question her friendship with Kristen. Was Kristen really who she appeared to be, why had so many people around her died? Bartz dug extraordinarily deep not only into Emily’s psyche but also Kristen’s as she revealed a woman hell bent on control, on manipulation, intent of having everything and everyone at her beck and call, on her own terms.

It was utterly fascinating to read and it created a brilliant intensity that pulled you in to the narrative, into the minds of Emily and Kristen. As Emily found more answers so the stakes appeared to rise, and in some respects the danger and the ensuing drama were superbly compelling.

The conclusion was perhaps the most intriguing part and left me with more answers than when I began. I was left with lingering questions that I mulled over but couldn’t quite decide what the answers were. I am almost certain this was Bartz’s intention and I admired her writing skills even more for it.

We Were Never Here definitely deserved it’s selection in Reese Witherspoon Book Club. An utterly fascinating look into the minds and relationship between two women, that created one fantastic thrilling story.

I would like to thank Micheal Joseph for a copy of We Were Never Here to read and review.

About the author


ANDREA BARTZ is a Brooklyn-based journalist and author of The Lost Night and The Herd. Her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Marie Claire, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Women’s Health, Martha Stewart Living, Redbook, Elle, and many other outlets, and she’s held editorial positions at Glamour, Psychology Today, and Self, among other publications.
Instagram:@AndiBartz

#Blogtour The Great Silence By Doug Johnstone @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours

Orenda Books 19th August 2021

The Blurb

The investigation businesses is no easy task for the Skelf women, and when matriarch Dorothy discovers a human foot while walking the dog, a perplexing case presents itself.
Daughter Jenny and grand-daughter Hannah have their hands full too: the mysterious circumstances of a dying woman have led them into an unexpected family drama, Hannah’s new astrophysicist colleague claims he’s receiving messages from outer space, and the Skelfs’ teenaged lodger has a devastating experience.
Nothing is clear as the women are immersed ever deeper in their most challenging cases yet. But when the daughter of Jenny’s violent and fugitive ex-husband goes missing without trace and a wild animal is spotted roaming Edinburgh’s parks, real danger presents itself, and all three Skelfs are in peril.
Taut, dark, warmly funny and unafraid to ask big questions – of us all – The Great Silence is the much-anticipated third instalment in the addictive, unforgettable Skelfs series.

My Review

So much seemed to have happened to the Skelf household that it was hard to know what lay in store for them next. We needn’t have worried as Johnstone had plans, plans that were none he less exciting than previous episodes yet had a more personal feel to them. I felt as if Johnstone was truly getting under the skin of his characters, that he was more comfortable being that bit more up close and personal. The women had all had to deal with so much but this felt like a settling of scores, of putting aside the old and moving onto the new.

Johnstone gave them their own individual case to investigate, as though each were tailored to their strengths but also their weaknesses, to bring out their vulnerabilities, to test them

Dorothy, still the eccentric Californian now happy in her relationship with detective Thomas, still bashing the drums and also my favourite. Johnstone thrust her into the mystery of the dead foot, and the sleek black Jaguar brilliantly named Whiskers. We followed her on the hunt for seriously bad embalmers and big cat keepers fascinated by that weird and wonderful underground world of Johnstone’s creation. Her own brush with Whisper led to heartbreak but also a final conclusion to the mystery of waif Abi’s father.

Jenny was one angry woman who skulked around determined to find her escapee ex husband, Craig, who still reeled from her break up with boyfriend Liam. When Craig’s daughter disappeared Johnstone teamed her up with Mum Fiona as they twisted and twirled with myriad dead ends to find her. I loved Johnstone’s Fiona, a distraught mother hell bent on truth, angry, without reasonable thought who bulldozed her way through Craig’s past associates and the police. Johnstone gave them a truly explosive end, a door shut, new possibilities that I cannot wait to read.

And what about Hannah, Jenny’s daughter, Dorothy’s granddaughter? Johnstone was more gentle, gave her Jose, PHD student obsessed with planets and extraterrestrial life. Could the messages he was receiving be from another world or as Hannah soon discovered was it something more complex, more personal. You felt she deserved the happjness she found with Indy, her girlfriend that finally life was exactly where she needed it to be.

Edinburgh was its own character, the leafy parks, the streets and coast provided the perfect setting for the Skelf’s as they whizzed around the city in pursuit of people and answers. It was a city you knew Johnstone loved, the place his characters felt so comfortable in as they guided us around, the perfect tourist guides, a great advertisement that made you want to visit.

All three women seemed to have to dig that more deeply into their own feelings, to confront demons that had hung over them for so long. It was Johnstone tying up the loose ends, closing a door and opening a new chapter that I am so desperate to read and shall be clogging up his Twitter feed telling him to hurry up.

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

About the author

Doug Johnstone is the author of twelve previous novels, most recently The Big Chill (2020). Several of his books have been bestsellers and three, A Dark Matter (2020), Breakers (2019) and The Jump (2015), were shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions over the last decade – including at a funeral parlour ahead of writing A Dark Matter – and has been an arts journalist for over twenty years. Doug is a songwriter and musician with five albums and three solo EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He’s also player-manager of the Scotland Writers Football Club. He lives in Edinburgh.

Follow Doug on Twitter @doug_johnstone and visit his website: dougjohnstone.com.

#Blogtour The Hunt and The Kill by Holly Watt @holly_watt @BloomsburyRaven @Tr4cyF3nt0n #CompulsiveReaders #TheHuntAndTheKill

Raven July 8th 2021

The Blurb

When acclaimed undercover journalist Casey Benedict is asked to interview a young woman with cystic fibrosis, the patient’s doctor alerts her to the looming threat of antibiotic-resistant infections, tipping her off about a potential new wonder drug. If the rumours are true, this new antibiotic could save millions of lives, but no one wants to admit that the drug even exists.

As Casey investigates, she follows the trail from the Maldives to a game reserve in Zimbabwe, using her undercover skills to probe the truth and find out why the discovery of this new drug is being covered-up. When tragedy unexpectedly strikes, Casey suspects that someone is trying to silence her, but she is not prepared to let the story drop, no matter how much danger she – or those she loves most – are put in.

A searing, page-turning, pulse-racing thriller that sees Casey on a hunt around the globe as she pursues a major exposé into pioneering medical research and drugs that could change the world.

My Review

I work in a GP practice and the number of calls we receive asking for antibiotics is huge, many patients see it as a magic wand, the cure for everything. Do they actually realise that antibiotic resistance will one day become a real issue, that the less we prescribe the more chance we have of staving off that day? I had some knowledge but Watt truly opened my eyes.

What she wrote was utterly fascinating, the science narrated in such a way that I understood the complexities, entwined within a novel that zigzagged across the world.

Watt threw journalist Casey into the melee, a woman who once onto a story never gave up as she uncovered corruption and murder. Who knew a seemingly straightforward interview with a cystic fibrosis patient would send her zigzagging across the world, or the personal cost to herself.

Watt didn’t let us take breath for one second, the litany of clues, of twists and turns never ending, until finally in South Africa the pieces slowly began to fall into place.

And what an Africa Watt painted, the heat, the wealth and the poverty. Antibiotics sold on the open market, hospitals that struggled to save the tiniest of babies. Casey defied her bosses stayed firmly on the trail, took risks that had you biting your nails as you wondered if she would actually emerge alive.

What she uncovered was truly shocking and whilst Watt may have used dramatic licence her afterword made it very clear that much of what she wrote was based on fact.

The selfishness of pharmaceutical company owner, Elias Bailey was astounding even if Watt did attempt to give him a redeeming feature. I still could not find empathy or sympathy.

As for Casey, Watt gave us not only a determined tenacious journalist but a woman sent to the edge who managed to find inner strength and a bravery to defy the odds. I cannot wait to see what Watt has in store for her next.

I would like to thank Raven for a copy of The Hunt and The Kill to read and review and to Compulsive Readers for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

As an investigative journalist, Holly Watt worked on MPs Expenses and the Panama Papers. She has written for the Sunday Times, the Telegraph and the Guardian. She lives in London.

Follow on Twitter @holly_watt