Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Mystery

Hunter’s Force Val Penny 5*#Review @valeriepenny @crookedcatbooks @rararesources #Hunter #Mystery #TheEdinburghCrimeMysteries #CrimeFiction #PoliceProcedural #BlogTour #BookReview #HuntersForce

Hunter by name – Hunter by nature.

Can DI Hunter Wilson keep Edinburgh safe when he is the hunted?

Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson is woken in the early hours of the morning by a call from his son. Cameron’s flatmate was murdered. Why would anybody want to kill a young woman recently arrived in the city? 

Hunter must call in the new Major Incident Team (MIT) to lead the investigation due to the reorganisation of police services. Hunter’s ability to be involved, however, is put in severe doubt when someone from his past decides to take revenge on him. He goes missing, and his team have no idea where to look for him. Who would want to stop Hunter in his tracks? 

Meanwhile, Hunter’s team must work closely with the MIT, with or without him, to solve the murder in this taut crime thriller. 

Amazon UK – Hunter’s Chase

Amazon UK – Hunter’s Revenge

Amazon UK – Hunter’s Force

#BlogTour

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The third book in ‘The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries’ delves into the horrific world of human trafficking and reveals a dark side to Edinburgh. Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson is drawn into this noir world, through a personal connection, which demands he investigate the case even though it falls under the auspices of the Murder Investigation Team.

I haven’t read the first two books in this series, and this one reads well as a standalone. The crime stories are complete and there is sufficient backstory on the recurrent characters to let a new reader understand their flaws and motivations and how they work as a team. However, the quality of the writing style and the authenticity of the characters demands I add the earlier books to my festive holiday reading list, it’s that good.

The crimes are well described and don’t make pleasant reading, but there is no gratuitous description and the darkness is counterbalanced with lighter moments, between the investigators, which increases the believability of the plot.

For readers who enjoy hard-boiled crime fiction and mystery, this is an addictive read, which draws you into the Edinburgh setting and the world of crime and detection.

Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However, she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. Her crime novels, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ Hunter’s Revenge and Hunter’s Force are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by Crooked Cat Books. The fourth book in the series, Hunter’s Blood, follows shortly.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship, Romance, Romantic Comedy

Look at me Now Simone Goodman 4*#Review @simonegauthor @BoldwoodBooks #BoldwoodBlogTours #RomCom #RealityTV #Cookery #Romance #Friendship #Extract #PublicationDay #BookReview #BlogTour

#LookatmeNow

GRACIE PORTER’S LIFE IS IN A TANGLE. HER TELEVISION COOKERY SHOW IS FLAILING AND HER BOYFRIEND’S AFFECTIONS ARE WANING. IT’S TIME FOR A CHANGE…

Best friend Faith rescues her place on the small screen when she unwittingly lands them both starring roles in a steamy spin-off that becomes an instant hit. The new show is more about relationships, sex and stonking big vegetables than cooking.

Throw in a fluctuating crush on her surprisingly irresistible agent, Harry Hipgrave, an unlikely friendship with a pair of D-list models and a gossip journalist intent on making her life miserable, Grace wonders if becoming famous is all it’s cracked up to be?

Romantic, utterly uplifting and poignant.

Paperback at Amazon UK Kindle at Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Definitely a story for lovers of celebrity and reality TV.

‘Look at me Now’, follows Gracie’s exploits as a celebrity chef on day time television, new owners and a tired show mean either change or unemployment. Gracie and Faith come up with a topical slant to make the show a twenty-first-century hit. What happens next pushes Gracie, who is a typical rom-com heroine, likeable and naive, well out of her comfort zone. Can she do it? Well, you’ll have to read it and see.

There is genuine humour in this story, plenty of romantic and work-based angst and conflict, and a gentle romance. The cast of characters are vividly written, and most avoid becoming stereotypical.
The writing style is inclusive and informal and makes this an easy, escapist read. Short chapters keep it well-paced.

If you like a romantic comedy with a contemporary twist, this is an enjoyable read.

Extract from – Look At Me Now – Simone Goodman

Chapter 1

‘Oops!’ Rushing into the television station where I work, escaping the demonic gale that’s sweeping across London this morning, I slide delicately across the wet tiles inside the entrance.

I say delicately. But it’s more hope that I look like an accomplished ice skater as I clumsily regain my balance. Being a healthy size 14 – I don’t consider myself fat, I’m just not reed thin – there’s a risk I’ve come off more like a comedian on a banana skin. Thankfully, no one other than Mitzi, our receptionist, is here to hold me accountable.

‘Golly, Gracie, are you okay?’ Mitzi calls from across the foyer, where she’s sitting behind the front desk, most likely reading a script.

‘I’m okay, Mitzi.’ By all accounts, my near miss looked distinctly less than elegant. Laughing, I steady myself on the death-tiles. It could have been worse. I could have toppled right over my own feet.

It’s only a short few hundred metres dash from Oxford Circus Tube station to my workplace, our studios located in a narrow but deceptively cavernous Georgian building on Soho Square. My umbrella blowing inside-out against the pelting rain and wind this morning, I covered the distance as quickly as possible. My dash best described as a nippy jog, it’s the most exercise I’ve done in months. It’s early January, the time for New Year resolutions. Possibly, it wouldn’t be the worst idea for me to consider joining a gym?

‘I’ve been warning someone will break their bones on those tiles,’ Mitzi says.

‘We could do with a non-slip mat here,’ I agree.

‘We could do with a lot of things around here,’ Mitzi sighs.

She reminds me of Daisy Lowe, the model. Dark hair. Doe eyes. Cherry-red lips. Though her role is to welcome visitors, Mitzi looks the part for television. Like many people who work here, she yearns to be in front of the camera.

I have my own show. But it troubles me, more and more lately, that I don’t look like I belong. This isn’t to say I don’t have my finer points. Pragmatically speaking, we all do. What can I tell you? My eyes are sometimes so blue as to appear violet. Almond-shaped, they’re generously framed with oodles of long, thick lashes. My dark locks cascade to below my shoulders and, at thirty-three years of age, I’ve not got a single grey hair on my head. My complexion is creamy, free of lines and, generally, spots. But before you picture me as some uber-glamourous cross between a young Elizabeth Taylor and a brunette Katy Perry, bear in mind I’m the more robustly packaged (sometimes size 14 plus) version. Some days, I fear I’m veering more into the territory of a Dawn French and Melissa McCarthy lovechild – without their comedy vehicles for kicks. But surely no one likes a thin chef?

I host my own daily cookery show, Gracie Porter’s Gourmet Get-Together.

The title is a bit of a misnomer. It’s impossible to prepare gourmet meals, haute cuisine of several aesthetically balanced and rich courses of food, within a short thirty minutes allotment of air time. Notwithstanding that with preparation of the set, the ingredients and me, it takes almost a full day to pre-record every show that then airs across the whole of England, Scotland and Wales at 10.30 a.m. the following week. Also, there isn’t much ‘getting together’ with my format. I like to think I’m always engaging with my audience as they tune in to connect with me from the comforts of their own homes, but the original concept had me hosting the occasional special guest: other chefs, celebrities and perhaps the more interesting politician. With none of us, including my producer, Robin, moving in celebrity circles, with Westminster MPs otherwise occupied with their scandals, solicitations and squabbling and me reasoning that any chef who wants to be on television would surely want their own show, we failed to deliver. When no one pushed us, we let it slide. We don’t even have a live audience. It’s pretty much me and the crew who chow down after a recording finishes. On this basis, my cookery show has aired daily for almost a year and a half.

Previously, I worked as a normal chef. I prepared mouth-watering meals in lovely places where people came to eat. When it comes to food, I’m a consummate professional. As far as television goes, I’m still cutting my teeth.

From the beginning, both investment and expectation of our little cookery show has been low. Being at the bottom end of a long list of hot shows and hotter stars left me below the radar – and this has suited me fine. Things changed late last year after Titan Media, the US entertainment giant, acquired a large chunk of our relatively tiny UK operations. This afternoon, at 3 p.m., I have a meeting with the American executives who now run things to discuss my ‘future services to the company’. It hasn’t escaped me that not everyone summoned to such meetings returned from their New Year breaks. People have been literally disappearing from the studios in droves. And I know my ratings aren’t the best.

I don’t disagree with Mitzi that things around here could be better. However, today is a day for putting the best, most confident and upbeat version of me forward.

‘I’m sure things will settle down and everything will be fine again soon,’ I assure her. I put my wet umbrella inside a cotton shopping bag.

Behind me, the front doors burst open. I turn to look. Shadowing the doorway, wearing her long, spectral black-hooded cape, stands Zelda the Magnificent, our resident daytime television psychic.

‘Gracie,’ Zelda declares on seeing me. ‘Dahling.’ Her voice is deep and melodic. Her accent is old Budapest enchantment. She’s like a darker, earthier Zsa Zsa Gabor. ‘Please, stop for Zelda,’ she implores in her dulcet tones. ‘I have, for you, a vision.’

#SimoneGoodman

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Simone’s Bio – Simone Goodman is CFO at one of the fastest-growing tech companies in Europe. She is Australian and lives in London with her daughter and her two cats.  Look At Me Now is her debut romantic comedy and will be published in November 2019.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, International Thriller, Political Thriller, Thriller

Blue Gold David Barker 4*#Review @BlueGold201 @UrbaneBooks #GaiaTrilogy #LoveBookTours @LoveBooksGroup #InternationalThriller #Geopolitics #PoliticalThriller #ClimateChange #Paperback

#BlueGold

The near future. Climate change and geopolitical tension have given rise to a new international threat – a world war for water. This most vital of resources has become a precious commodity and some will stop at nothing to control its flow. When a satellite disappears over Iceland, Sim Atkins thinks he knows why. He is given the chance to join the hallowed Overseas Division and hunt for the terrorists responsible. But his new partner Freda Brightwell is aggrieved to be stuck with a rookie on such a deadly mission. Freda’s misgivings are well-founded when their first assignment ends in disaster – a bomb destroys a valuable airship and those responsible evade capture. Seeking redemption, the British agents follow the trail to a billionaires’ tax haven in the middle of the Atlantic ocean and uncover a web of deceit that threatens global war. Whom can they trust? As the world edges ever closer to destruction Sim and Freda must put their lives on the line to prevent Armageddon – and protect the future of ‘blue gold’.

Amazon UK

#BlueGold #BlogTour

I received a copy of this book from Urbane Publications in return for an honest review.

#BackCover

My Thoughts…

Set in a possible near future, this story has enough topicality to be both riveting and worrying. Water, which has always been a precious commodity, in places where it is sparse, now arrives on the global terrorist agenda. Water is essential for life, and therefore controlling its dissemination, storage and use makes it a powerful weapon of mass destruction.

The story focuses on an initial incendiary terrorist activity, and the role of two agents of the Overseas Division OFWAT, which for those like me who don’t know is the Water regulatory authority. In reality, since 1989 this refers to the economic regulation of the privatised water and sewage companies. In this scenario, the overseas division is aligned with MI6 and fights against water terrorism. The existing organisation is defined in the author’s notes but a simple explanation within the story would be helpful, for ease of reading.

The story begins with the agents in desperate circumstances but then goes back in a real-time way to fill in the gaps and get the reader to where they are now. The main characters are realistic with interesting backstory and flaws and dedication to the cause. There is also a cast of additional characters who each play their part in this geopolitical thriller.

The story is adrenaline led and realistic. The narrative makes many astute political comments on climate change and the importance of key natural resources, not normally the subjects of wars in past decades.

Climate change and the political situation it evokes is on most people’s minds and this thriller portrays a worrying escalation of terror threats and global power struggles over something humanity needs to survive.

Fast-paced, with relatable characters and events and an ominous realistic edge.

#GaiaTrilogy
#DavidBarker

David lives in Berkshire and is married to an author of children’s picture books, with a daughter who loves stories. His working life has been spent in the City, first for the Bank of England and now as Chief Economist for an international fund. So his job entails trying to predict the future all the time. David’s writing ambitions received a major boost after he attended the Faber Academy six-month course in 2014 and he still meets up with his inspirational fellow students. He loves reading, especially adventure stories, sci-fi and military history. Outside of family life, his other interests include tennis, golf and surfing.

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Mystery, Romantic Suspense, Suspense

Keeper of Secrets Lynda Stacey 4* #Review @LyndaStacey @RubyFiction @ChocLitUK #Suspense #Secrets #FamilyDrama #Mystery #BlogTour #BookReview #RomanticSuspense @rararesources #BlogTour

#KeeperofSecrets

Should some secrets stay buried?

For as long as Cassie Hunt can remember her Aunt Aggie has spoken about the forgotten world that exists just below their feet, in the tunnels and catacombs of the Sand House. The story is what inspired Cassie to become an archaeologist. 

But Aggie has a secret that she’s buried as deep as the tunnels and when excavation work begins on the site, Cassie is the only one who can help her keep it. With the assistance of her old university friend, Noah Flanagan, she puts into action a plan to honour Aggie’s wishes. 

It seems the deeper Noah and Cassie dig, the more shocking the secrets uncovered – and danger is never far away, both above and below the ground …

AmazonUK

#BlogTour

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Intriguing, poignant and romantic, ‘Keeper of Secrets’ is romantic suspense full of mysteries to solve, an undercurrent of menace and a strong family drama. Set predominately in Doncaster, it has an urban feel, with poverty, and strong family values at the forefront. The sense of place and the authentic characters are evident and give the plot a sense of realism. The prologue sets the ethos for the story. Young sisters bullied and escaping from their tormentors, only to experience something even more devastating.

The setting for the archaeological dig is real, although the artistic license comes into play with the exact nature and the timings of the dig. The descriptions are excellent and bring the setting to life in a vivid, visual way.

Aggie’s poignant secret is also grounded in reality and makes it sadder. Cassie is a strong, loyal character, she is willing to put herself in danger for the woman who raised her, and this makes her the perfect protagonist.

The mysteries are well written, but it the atmospheric setting, and sense of unease Cassie experiences that keep you turning the pages. The romance is a lovely lighthearted side of the story, which stops it becoming too dark and sinister.

The ending draws the mystery element to a satisfactory close.

An easy to read romantic suspense with intriguing elements of mystery and absorbing family drama.

#LyndaStacey

Lynda is a wife, step-mother and grandmother who grew up in the mining village of Bentley, Doncaster, in South Yorkshire.

She is currently the Sales Director of a stationery, office supplies and office furniture company in Doncaster, where she has worked for the past 28 years. Prior to this, she’d also been a nurse, a model, an emergency first response instructor and a PADI Scuba Diving Instructor … and yes, she was crazy enough to dive in the sea with sharks, without a cage.

Following a car accident in 2008, Lynda was left with limited mobility in her right arm. Unable to dive or teach anymore, she turned to her love of writing, a hobby she’d followed avidly since being a teenager.

Her own life story, along with varied career choices, helps Lynda to create stories of romantic suspense, with challenging and unpredictable plots, along with (as in all romances) very happy endings.

She lives in a small rural hamlet near Doncaster, with her ‘hero at home husband’, Haydn, whom she’s been happily married to for over 20 years.

Lynda joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association in 2014 under the umbrella of the New Writers’ Scheme and in 2015 her debut novel House of Secrets won Choc Lit’s Search for a Star competition. Lynda writes for both Choc Lit and Ruby Fiction.

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