#BlogTour The Perfect Betrayal by Lauren North

Today it’s an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Perfect Betrayal by Lauren North. It’s a psychological thriller, and in equal measures a story about grief and mental health.

About the Author

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

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

Follow @Lauren_C _North @TransworldBooks on Twitter, or Lauren on Facebook,

Buy The Perfect Betrayal

About the book

‘I thought she was our friend. I thought she was trying to help us.’

After the sudden death of her husband, Tess is drowning in grief. All she has left is her son, Jamie, and she’ll do anything to protect him – but she’s struggling to cope. When grief counsellor Shelley knocks on their door, everything changes. Shelley is beautiful, confident and takes control when Tess can’t bear to face the outside world. She is the perfect friend to Tess and Jamie, but when Jamie’s behaviour starts to change, and Tess starts to forget things, she begins to suspect that Shelley might not be the answer to their problems after all.

When questions arise over her husband’s death and strange things start to happen, Tess begins to suspect that Shelley may have an ulterior motive. Tess knows she must do everything she can to keep Jamie safe – but who can she trust?

Review

I’m going to try and be careful not to give away anything that might reveal the plot in its entirety, because the emotional crescendo at the end and psychological aspect of the story is what makes it such a captivating read.

When Tess loses her husband unexpectedly her grief envelopes her whole world. She becomes fiercely protective of her young son Jamie, almost to the point of being paranoid and self-destructive. A grief counsellor called Shelley tries to help Tess deal with her loss, but ends up making her doubt herself and her surroundings even more.

The paranoia Tess experiences is magnified tenfold by her brother-in-law Ian. He is pushing Tess to deal with the financial aftermath of the death, pushing entirely in his favour of course. His greed and the fact there seem to be discrepancies and unanswered questions about the death of her spouse make Tess even more sensitive to the odd things that start happening around her.

The author captures the intensity of the grief process and how it manifests differently in each of us. In some people it manifests in feelings of anger, guilt, fear, perhaps even relief depending on the circumstances of the loss. Grief isn’t necessarily rational and can cause an altered state of mind.

I think the most difficult thing is that the people outside of that intense inner ring of grief often lack compassion, empathy and understanding about the way a grieving person may react. They expect the grieving person to deal with it, get over it and just move on to the next chapter of their lives. It isn’t that simple. Grief is a pit of embers that alights when triggered. Those embers may be less likely to precede a fire with time, but make no mistake they are always hidden somewhere deep inside.

It’s a psychological thriller, and in equal measures a story about grief and mental health. How the emotional turmoil caused by despair, death and losing the people you love the most can drive a person to the brink.

North brings the story full circle at the end, and in a way brings the most realistic element of this tale into the last few pages. Tess makes a decision for her own well-being, perhaps not what everyone thinks is best, but in that moment in time it’s the right thing for her or is it?

Buy The Perfect Betrayal at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Transworld Digital (14 Mar. 2019). Ebook pub date 14 March 2019Paperback pub date 27 June 2019

#BlogTour The Family Secret by Terry Lynn Thomas

You know it must be a good blurb when you accidentally sign up to host the same book on two different tours at either end of the same month. Without further ado it’s once again a pleasure to take part the BlogTour The Family Secret and to welcome Terry Lynn Thomas back to the blog again with her second book in the Cat Carlisle series. It’s a cosy mystery series that sometimes veers into the spy genre.

About the Author

Terry Lynn Thomas grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, which explains her love of foggy beaches and Gothic mysteries. When her husband promised to buy Terry a horse and the time to write if she moved to Mississippi with him, she jumped at the chance. Although she had written several novels and screenplays prior to 2006, after she relocated to the South she set out to write in earnest and has never looked back.

Terry Lynn writes the Sarah Bennett Mysteries, set on the California coast during the 1940s, which feature a misunderstood medium in love with a spy. The Drowned Woman is a recipient of the IndieBRAG Medallion. She also writes the Cat Carlisle Mysteries, set in Britain during World War II. The first book in this series, The Silent Woman, came out in April 2018 and has since become a USA TODAY bestseller. When she’s not writing, you can find Terry Lynn riding her horse, walking in the woods with her dogs, or visiting old cemeteries in search of story ideas.

Follow @TLThomasBooks @HQDigitalUK, Or follow Terry Lynn Thomas on Facebook,

Visit terrylynnthomas.com

Buy The Family Secret

About the book

Will she find the truth?

England, 1940 – After a sudden unexplained disappearance, Thomas Charles comes back into Cat Carlisle’s life with the suggestion she leave London – and the threat of bombs – to move to back her childhood village in Cumberland.

Back in her hometown Cat discovers her childhood friend, Beth Hargreaves, is suspected of murder. As Cat tries to prove Beth’s innocence, she discovers a scheme of deception that affects the whole village. Can she uncover the family truths behind the murder and expose the enemy hiding in plain sight?

Review

This is the second book in the Cat Carlisle series. It can be read as a stand-alone novel, but I would suggest reading the first, if only to get to know more about the main character of the books, and what makes her tick.

I felt as if there was less focus on Cat this time, which is what made The Silent Woman such a strong read. The taking hold of her life and becoming the woman she is supposed to be, despite all of the obstacles in her way. I felt that element of Cat was missing in this story.

The cosy mystery element of the series played more of a significant role this time, perhaps to the detriment of any possible secret squirrel activities ordered by Sir Reginald and delivered by Thomas.

When the narrative switches from Thomas to Phillip I had to go back and check I was still reading the same book, because the secondary characters play just as strong a part in this story I wasn’t sure if it was still the same one.

The impending war, the fear and the changes due to the impact of this threat play a secondary role. It plays along silently in the background, as lives go on in semi-normality. People still commit crimes, fall in love, betray each other and try to carry on as if life as they know it isn’t changing forever as they go about their business.

On a side note in regards to Phillip – does a leopard change his spots? Extra strong bleach perhaps?

It’s a cosy mystery series that sometimes veers into the spy genre with plenty of memorable characters. It has a comfortable feeling to it, a pleasant read with a family secrets, snide characters and people determined to find the truth.

Buy The Family Secret at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ Digital pub date 1 Mar. 2019. Buy The Family Secret at Amazon com.

Read my review of The Silent Woman (Cat Carlisle #1)

#BlogTour Magnolia House by Angela Barton

Today it’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Magnolia House by Angela Barton. It’s a story about moving on, romance and friendship with a little bit of mystery on the side.About the Author

Angela Barton was born in London and grew up in Nottingham. She is married with three grown up children and adorable four-year-old twin granddaughters. Angela is passionate about writing both contemporary and historical fiction and loves time spent researching facts for her novels. Having signed publishing contracts for three of her completed novels with Choc Lit’s new imprint, Ruby Fiction, Angela is excited to be working alongside such a lovely team.

Angela and her husband, Paul, recently moved to France and planted a lavender field. She’s looking forward to spending more time writing in the beautiful Charente countryside working from her new writing room, a beautiful shepherd hut. Angela is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and Nottingham Writers’ Studio.

Follow @angebarton @ChocLitUk on Twitter or Angela Barton on Facebook, Visit angelabarton.net

Buy Magnolia House

About the book

Rowan Forrester has it all – the happy marriage, the adorable dog, the good friends, the promising business and even the dream home after she and her husband Tom win a stunning but slightly dilapidated Georgian townhouse in London at auction.

But in the blink of an eye, Rowan’s picture-perfect life comes crashing down around her and she is faced with the prospect of having to start again.

To make ends meet she begins a search for housemates, and in doing so opens the door to new friends and new beginnings. But could she be opening the door to new heartbreak too?Review

Rowan and Tom add a dream home to their long list of successes. The perfect couple with the perfect life that suddenly comes crumbling down one day. Perhaps the facade isn’t so perfect after all.

Inevitably Rowan experiences what we all do in life at some point. The fact we don’t really ever know someone as well as we think we do or know all their secrets. She finds this out the hard way when her house of cards falls down unexpectedly.

Forced to reconsider her options and choices, she decides to change her dream home into flats and invite strangers into her home. Strangers who turn her world upside down and inside out. What seemed to be important during her life with Tom now no longer appears to have the same importance.

I thought it was interesting how Barton chose not to go down the most obvious happy to forgive and all is hunky-dory route. Instead the story takes a slight left turn towards the end. Probably a more realistic view of the situation.

Barton doesn’t concentrate on the misery or heartbreak of her characters, but rather on the fact that life must go on regardless of which hands we are dealt. Where one door closes another one opens, possibly even more than one.

It’s a story about moving on, romance and friendship with a little bit of mystery on the side. The author has a flair for authentic characters with realistic problems, which makes it easier for readers to connect with them. It’s a contemporary read with a cosy feel to it.

Buy Magnolia House at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Choc Lit; pub date 29 Jan. 2019.

Buy Arlette’s story here

#BlogTour The Widening Gyre by Michael R. Johnston

Today it’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Widening Gyre by C.J. Sutton. It’s futuristic, dystopian sci-fi meets action packed space opera. I look forward to reading where this series goes.

About the Author

Born in the San Francisco bay area and raised in Napa, California, Michael R. Johnston grew up steeped in everything Science Fiction and Fantasy from Asimov to Zelazny, as well as endless terrible SF TV shows he still has a slightly embarrassed fondness for.

Faced with the choice between moving back in with his parents and continuing school, or paying his rent, he took “a year” off from college. He spent time as a court process server, a retail sales associate, a sandwich maker, and a data entry tech, before finding himself in a management role. A decade later, burnt out from his job in political research and facing 30, he decided he’d had enough and returned to college, graduating with honors from California State University, Sacramento.

In fall 2006, he became a high school English teacher, a job he likens to herding a swarm of angry bees. It’s the best job he’s ever had.

In 2013, he attended the 17th Viable Paradise Science Fiction Writing Workshop. The experience of having his story critiqued by other writers, some of them professionals he’d been reading for years, helped him realize he could write professionally, and introduced him to some of his best friends.

He currently lives in Sacramento, California, with his wife and daughter. When he’s not writing or teaching, he spends time with his family, plays video games and tabletop RPGs (often with family), and reads.

Follow @MREJohnston @flametreepress on Twitter, Visit MJohnstonBooks.com

Buy The Widening Gyre

About the book

Eight hundred years ago, the Zhen Empire discovered a broken human colony ship drifting in the fringes of their space. The Zhen gave the humans a place to live and folded them into their Empire as a client state. But it hasn’t been easy. Not all Zhen were eager to welcome another species into their Empire, and humans have faced persecution. For hundreds of years, human languages and history were outlawed subjects, as the Zhen tried to mold humans into their image. Earth and the cultures it nourished for millennia are forgotten, little more than legends.

One of the first humans to be allowed to serve in the Zhen military, Tajen Hunt became a war hero at the Battle of Elkari, the only human to be named an official Hero of the Empire. He was given command of a task force, and sent to do the Empire’s bidding in their war with the enigmatic Tabrans. But when he failed in a crucial mission, causing the deaths of millions of people, he resigned in disgrace and faded into life on the fringes as a lone independent pilot.

When Tajen discovers his brother, Daav, has been killed by agents of the Empire, he, his niece, and their newly-hired crew set out to finish his brother’s quest: to find Earth, the legendary homeworld of humanity. What they discover will shatter 800 years of peace in the Empire, and start a war that could be the end of the human race.

Review

In this story the humans are the underdog. The rare species fighting for survival in a world run by aliens who eat raw and live meat. Shout out to the original V at this point, who loved to eat live rats and even hamsters.

Even in sci-fi there is room for sub-species to be discriminated against, treated as less than the superior race, and yet still used to stock up numbers in a war (aka bullet fodder). Tajen Hunt is a decorated war hero, the sole human carrier of the title Hero of the Empire. The fact he achieved this title by inadvertently causing the mass deaths of his own race, makes him a traitor to his own and deserving of an odd respect from the Zhen.

Tajen has to confront his feelings of guilt about his military career when a tragic event forces him to interact with his past and his immediate family. Easier said than done. He struggles to connect with his niece, in fact he struggles to connect emotionally to anyone.

He accidentally creates a team of determined truth seekers, who are willing to follow the scavenger hunt for information hidden by his brother. Not all of them believe the conspiracy theory and that the search will lead them to a planet surrounded my myths and tales of non-existence.

It’s a sci-fi space adventure with a ship full of rebels willing to defy a whole alien race to discover the truth about planet earth. What is so important the Zhen will go to any length to keep it secret, including killing those who are willing to dig deep to discover said secret.

I enjoyed the read. It’s futuristic, dystopian sci-fi meets action packed space opera. I look forward to reading where this series goes.

Buy The Widening Gyre by Michael R. Johnston at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Flame Tree Press; pub date 14 Mar. 2019. Buy at !ndigo, Flame Tree Press, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, Powell’s, Waterstones or Book Depository.

#BlogTour This Strange Hell by C.J. Sutton

It’s my turn on the BlogTour This Strange Hell by C.J. Sutton today. It’s a fast-paced brutal and often violent thriller with a questionable main character.

About the Author

C.J. Sutton is a writer based in Melbourne, Australia. He holds a Masters in journalism and creative writing and supports the value of study through correspondence. His fictional writing delves into the unpredictability of the human mind and the fears that drive us.

As a professional writer C. J. Sutton has worked within the hustle and bustle of newsrooms, the competitive offices of advertising and the trenches of marketing. But his interest in creating new characters and worlds has seen a move into fiction, which has always pleaded for complete attention. Dortmund Hibernate was his debut novel, released by Crooked Cat Books on July 18.

It is available now – mybook.to/dortmundhibernate. His new novel, This Strange Hell, was released on March 15.

Follow @c_j_sutton @crookedcatbooks on Twitter,  Follow C.J. Sutton on Facebook, on Instagram, Visit cjsutton-author.com

Buy This Strange Hell

About the book

A suited man runs from a burning tower in Melbourne as bodies rain down upon him.

Before the city’s millions can compose, he boards a train into the countryside. Hiding his identity and changing his appearance, the man finds his way to Sulley Ridge, a lawless town in the heart of the harsh Victorian outback.

The following day, a burned man wakes up in a hospital bed. Surging with rage, he speaks a name. Within an hour, the suited man’s face is across every screen in the country. It’s the greatest manhunt Australia has ever seen.

But as he tries to camouflage in Sulley Ridge, he soon realises the town has its own problems. Under the iron fist of a violent leader, the locals are trapped within slow and torturous decay…

As we learn more about the night of the burning tower, the connection between the suited man and the burned man threatens to leave a trail of destruction across the state.

Here is the story of a man on the run from his past, as the line between sanity and evil is danced upon. Here is the tale of This Strange Hell.

Review

What kind of man kills men, women and children without giving it a second thought? What’s worse is the way he killed them – a huge ball of fire. A large apartment building full of families, who are ripped apart and destroyed in the blink of an eye.

It’s sort of the luck of the draw that Brady ends up in a troubled town with people who are willing to overlook his recent actions, but only if he is open to negotiation. I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine kind of thing.

This is a story about a small town rising up to defeat the evil that has invaded and taken root in their lives. The kind of evil that has no boundaries and is willing to kill, maim, disfigure and destroy without any compunction at all. Evil has many faces, no loyalty and can buy plenty of friends.

The premise questions the validity and influence of media in controversial events. How the narrative can be determined by one person, regardless of whether it is true or not, and picked up by the world press. The innocent are tried and convicted in the court of general opinion, and the guilty are drawn and quartered by the same media.

Sutton plays with the question of guilt and innocence. Does one bad deed mean a person is no longer capable of good ones, even if it is an atrocious and heinous bad deed? Can such a person redeem themselves?

It’s a fast-paced brutal and often violent thriller with a questionable main character. A man who appears to be hiding from his unforgivable actions, a man without a conscience, and yet there seems to be so much more he isn’t telling everyone.

There is no doubt, this is indeed a strange hell.

Buy This Strange Hell at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Crooked Cat Books; pub date 15 Mar. 2019.

#BlogTour Welcome to the Heady Heights by David F. Ross

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Welcome to the Heady Heights by David F. Ross. It’s a sardonic, brusque contemporary piece of fiction, which is steeped in the harsh reality of the time period.

About the Author

David F. Ross was born in Glasgow in 1964 and has lived in Kilmarnock for over thirty years. He is a graduate of the Mackintosh School of Architecture at Glasgow School of Art, an architect by day, and a hilarious social media commentator, author and enabler by night. His most prized possession is a signed Joe Strummer LP.

Since the publication of his debut novel The Last Days of Disco, he’s become something of a media celebrity in Scotland, with a signed copy of his book going for £500 at auction, and the German edition has not left the bestseller list since it was published.

Follow @dfr10 @OrendaBooks on Twitter, Visit davidfross.co.uk

Buy Welcome to the Heady Heights

About the book

It’s the year punk rock was born, Concorde entered commercial service and a tiny Romanian gymnast changed the sport forever…

Archie Blunt is a man with big ideas. He just needs a break for them to be realised. In a bizarre brush with the light entertainment business, Archie unwittingly saves the life of the UK’s top showbiz star, Hank ‘Heady’ Hendricks, and immediately seizes the opportunity to aim for the big time. With dreams of becoming a musical impresario, he creates a new singing group called The High Five with five unruly working-class kids from Glasgow’s East End. The plan? Make it to the final of Heady’s Saturday night talent show, where fame and fortune awaits…

But there’s a complication. Archie’s made a fairly major misstep in his pursuit of fame and fortune, and now a trail of irate Glaswegian bookies, corrupt politicians and a determined Scottish WPC are all on his tail…

Review

The caustic humour of the Scots, in particular of the Glaswegian brand of the people way up north, is a wee bit like a slightly burnt piece of toast with a slathering of marmite and no butter on it. You’ll either hate it or you’ll enjoy it in a way only a marmite lover can. The humorous element is therefore debatable depending on how you like it or comprehend the written accent and in-jokes.

I didn’t feel it had much of a funny pull to it, and it wasn’t really of great importance to the story as far as I was concerned. If I had to describe this story to someone I would do it from an entirely different angle.

Behind the wall of snark and feisty dialogue is an exploration of debauchery, fame, infamy, influence and power. Ross portrays this side of humanity against the stark contrast of the working man’s life and the dire statistics of mental health, and those in regards to the life expectancy of men in certain areas.

This is especially evident in Archie’s life as he struggles to deal with the deterioration of his father’s memory and mental health, whilst fearing loss of employment and simultaneously trying to make money by becoming famous. This is how he becomes involved in the shallow, disgusting world of Heady Heights.

As the criminal actions are rolled out in the background of the story, slowly piece by piece like a jigsaw puzzle. The reader is also introduced to WPC Barbara Sherman, the character who leads us to the more salacious habits of the corrupt so-called elite. She has to deal with the misogynistic nature of the police force and harassment being brushed off like a speck of dust on a shoulder.

It’s a sardonic, brusque contemporary piece of fiction, which is steeped in the harsh reality of the time period. It’s crime fiction hidden in a noirish, brash story of corruption and deviancy.

Buy Welcome to the Heady Heights at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Orenda Books; pub date 1 Feb. 2019), Paperback release 21 March 2019, Ecopy pub date 1 Feb 2019.

#BlogTour The Forgotten Secret by Kathleen McGurl

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour The Forgotten Secret by Kathleen McGurl. It’s historical and women’s fiction with a strong political storyline, and yet McGurl contains the turbulence and focuses on the people, their lives and emotions.

About the Author

Kathleen McGurl lives near the sea in Bournemouth, UK, with her husband and elderly tabby cat. She has two sons who are now grown-up and have left home. She began her writing career creating short stories, and sold dozens to women’s magazines in the UK and Australia. Then she got side-tracked onto family history research – which led eventually to writing novels with genealogy themes. She has always been fascinated by the past, and the ways in which the past can influence the present, and enjoys exploring these links in her novels.

Follow @KathMcGurl @HQDigitalUK on Twitter, Visit kathleenmcgurl.com

Buy The Forgotten Secret

About the book

A country at war – It’s the summer of 1919 and Ellen O’Brien has her whole life ahead of her. Young, in love and leaving home for her first job, the future seems full of shining possibility. But war is brewing and before long Ellen and everyone around her are swept up by it. As Ireland is torn apart by the turmoil, Ellen finds herself facing the ultimate test of love and loyalty.

And a long-buried secret – A hundred years later and Clare Farrell has inherited a dilapidated old farmhouse in County Meath. Seizing the chance to escape her unhappy marriage she strikes out on her own for the first time, hoping the old building might also provide clues to her family’s shadowy history. As she sets out to put the place – and herself – back to rights, she stumbles across a long-forgotten hiding place, with a clue to a secret that has lain buried for decades.

For fans of Kate Morton and Gill Paul comes an unforgettable novel about two women fighting for independence.

Review

The story tells the tale of two women, of Clare in the 21st century and Ellen in 1919, with Ireland and its last few centuries of troubled history at the core of both stories.

The reader meets Clare when she inherits a dilapidated property in Ireland and uses this inheritance to free herself from under the oppressive thumb of her husband. After many decades of marriage and two grown children, she finally plucks up the courage to free herself from his constant verbal abuse and abusive control.

I think it’s important to note that the author makes a deliberate attempt to show that abuse doesn’t always mean something physical. Sometimes it means someone controlling,  who isolates and verbally abuses a person, an aspect of abusive relationships which has only just become punishable by law.

Even Clare feels as if she has to say sorry for not not being physically abused and only abused in a non-physical way. This strange feeling of guilt and not being worthy of a concern is also the reason many don’t feel able to report non-physical abuse, because they think they won’t be taken seriously.

Ellen on the other hand finds herself in the middle of a question of loyalty. Not just any loyalty either. In a time of great upheaval and the seeds of later violent discord, rebellion and terrorism are sown and begin to sprout in the proud inhabitants of the Irish Isles (choosing not to use a political term which could be construed as hinting at political overlordship).

It’s historical and women’s fiction with a strong political storyline, and yet McGurl contains the turbulence and focuses on the people, their lives and emotions. The result is a tale of mystery, heartbreak and forgiveness, which intersects when the past meets the present in the form of a well hidden secret.

Buy The Forgotten Secret at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ Digital; Ecopy pub date 1 March 2019, Paperback pub date 16 May 2019.

Read my review of The Daughters of Red Hill Hall, of The Emerald Comb, The Pearl Locket and The Girl from Ballymoor by Kathleen McGurl.