#BlogTour! #Review – #BloodSong by Johana Gustawsson (@jogustawsson) @OrendaBooks @AnneCater

Happy paperback publication day to Johana Gustawsson and ‘Blood Song’, I am so pleased to be today’s stop on the blog tour! Many thanks to Anne Cater and Orenda for both the blog tour invite and ARC. Here is my review:

The action swings from London to Sweden, and then back into the past, to Franco’s Spain, as Roy & Castells hunt a monstrous killer … in the lastest instalment of Johana Gustawsson’s award-winning series

Spain, 1938:

The country is wracked by civil war, and as Valencia falls to Franco’s brutal dictatorship, Republican Therese witnesses the murders of her family. Captured and sent to the notorious Las Ventas women’s prison, Therese gives birth to a daughter who is forcibly taken from her.

Falkenberg, Sweden, 2016: A wealthy family is found savagely murdered in their luxurious home. Discovering that her parents have been slaughtered, Aliénor Lindbergh, a new recruit to the UK’s Scotland Yard, rushes back to Sweden and finds her hometown rocked by the massacre.

Profiler Emily Roy joins forces with Aliénor and soon finds herself on the trail of a monstrous and prolific killer. Little does she realise that this killer is about to change the life of her colleague, true-crime writer Alexis Castells. Joining forces once again, Roy and Castells’ investigation takes them from the Swedish fertility clinics of the present day back to the terror of Franco’s rule, and the horrifying events that took place in Spanish orphanages under its rule.

What does TWG think?

As ignorant as this may sound, I wasn’t aware of the atrocities that Spain dealt with in the late 1930’s….I am now though! I have absolutely no words! My heart broke for all of the people involved, for all of the people who lost their lives, and for those who lost their life and were forced to continue as a shell. ‘Blood Song’ isn’t a comfortable read at all, in fact I would go as far to say that it is a deeply uncomfortable and unsettling read, however my reaction was nothing compared to the pain of those living in Spain during Franco’s dictatorship.

‘Blood Song’ is a dual timeline novel as it switches between Spain in the past, and Sweden in the ‘present’ where Emily Roy and Alexis Castells find themselves with the task of finding the cold hearted culprit who murdered three people in their own home. Why were they killed? What secrets, if any, were they hiding?

The murder investigation angle of ‘Blood Song’ was so addictive! I loved being able to follow Emily Roy as she attempted to create a profile of the killer, or killers, based on the evidence left and they way they chose to murder. A profiler is such an underrated part of a police investgation, however I thought it was one of the most fascinating.

Emily Roy is an intriguing character, her personal guard is so far up, anyone would need a ladder should they attempt to get past it!

I really did enjoy the complexity of the storyline – I found the uncertainty incredibly intriguing whilst it also kept me on my toes. I did find the storyline to be a little confusing at times due to the way certain situations flitted from one another, making me concerned that I had missed something along the way. A little bit too staggered for me at times!

That said, I thought that Gustawsson dealt with the topics in the storyline phenomenally. The historical nature of the book, whilst being very dark, was written beautifully and I found myself becoming emotional at the fact that stories were being told and voices were being heard, even if the original victim wasn’t telling the story themselves.

A heartbreaking, suspenseful novel which combines historical fiction and crime in the most unique and eye-opening manner, ‘Blood Song’ is a truly unforgettable read.

Buy now.

#BlogTour! #Review – #InTheAbsenceofMiracles by Michael J Malone (@michaeljmalone1) @OrendaBooks @AnneCater

Next up on TWG today is my review of ‘In The Absence of Miracles’ by Michael.J.Malone. Many thanks to Orenda and Anne for the blog tour invite and ARC.

John Docherty’s mother has just been taken into a nursing home following a massive stroke and she’s unlikely to be able to live independently again.

With no other option than to sell the family home, John sets about packing up everything in the house. In sifting through the detritus of his family’s past he’s forced to revisit, and revise his childhood.

For in a box, in the attic, he finds undeniable truth that he had a brother who disappeared when he himself was only a toddler. A brother no one ever mentioned. A brother he knew absolutely nothing about. A discovery that sets John on a journey from which he may never recover.

For sometimes in that space where memory should reside there is nothing but silence, smoke and ash. And in the absence of truth, in the absence of a miracle, we turn to prayer. And to violence.

What does TWG think?

Gosh, I don’t really know where to begin. ‘In The Absence of Miracles’ is such a unique story, one that is incredibly topical in todays society.

I would feel incredibly uncomfortable if I sat here and said that I loved this book because of the subject matter discussed, however, even though there were moments of discomfort on my part, I really enjoyed the way in which Michael J Malone delivered the story.

My opinions on the characters changed multiple times throughout the story as one moment I felt empathy towards John’s mother and anger towards John, and then the next moment those opinions reversed.

I was completely blindsided by the eventualities that were uncovered by John’s journey, many of which were difficult to read, yet the reality of said situations are difficult, distressing and often harrowing. Michael J Malone seemed to really get into the psyche of his characters which really made the emotional scenes come to life.

‘In The Absence of Miracles’ may be a dark, harrowing and destructive read, yet it is also a compelling, emotive, poignant and relatable story which describes the journey of locked away emotions, hidden agendas, as well as the miracle of learning how to protect yourself, even if you never realised you had to.

An incredible read that will stay with me for a long time to come.

Buy now.

#BlogTour! #Review – The Closer I Get by Paul Burston (@PaulBurston) @OrendaBooks @AnneCater

Many thanks to Anne Cater and Orenda for the blog tour invite and ARC, here is my review of ‘The Closer I Get’ by Paul Burston, for my stop on the tour today:

Tom is a successful author, but he’s struggling to finish his novel. His main distraction is an online admirer, Evie, who simply won’t leave him alone.

Evie is smart, well read and unstable; she lives with her father and her social-media friendships are not only her escape, but everything she has.

When she’s hit with a restraining order, her world is turned upside down, and Tom is free to live his life again, to concentrate on writing.

But things aren’t really adding up. For Tom is distracted but also addicted to his online relationships, and when they take a darker, more menacing turn, he feels powerless to change things. Because maybe he needs Evie more than he’s letting on.

What does TWG think?

Several days ago, The Guardian newspaper published an article written by Paul Burston’s inspiration for his new novel, ‘The Closer I Get’. The article explained just how many similarities the author himself has with the characters of the book. Now, I had already read the book when the article was published, and I have to say that my heart went out to Paul Burston for what he went through. Having already appreciated the storyline for the eye opening work that it was, the story grew in depth with the newfound knowledge under my belt.

For me personally, even though Evie was the antagonist of the storyline, I found her character to be one that was highly addictive and extremely compelling. I’ll even go as far to say that she got under my skin. I know that she was in the wrong and that she was psychotic with a capital P, but her character managed to to twist me round to her way of thinking without me even noticing the change. I didn’t want to side with such a manic and obsessive personality, however Paul Burston had me hanging on her every word.

Poor Tom is the victim in the book. That said, he wasn’t exactly likeable! I’m not saying he deserved being stalked and what not, not at all. I just couldn’t help but think that he was a bit of a cactus at times.

The premise of ‘The Closer I Get’ is very apt with today’s society, and the fact that nearly everyone uses social media for one thing or another. It’s not until you’re faced with storylines such as these, that the dark side of social media is revealed and honestly, it’s a bit scary in the wrong hands!

I thought that Paul Burston’s writing was magnetic and deeply moving. His storytelling enriched me deep within and I couldn’t help but be hooked on the obsessive, intense and extremely chilling read which showcases how even the most simple things can be misconstrued.

An absolutely brilliant book with flawed personalities and a socially apt storyline. Probably one of the best books I’ve read this year.

Buy now.

#BlogTour! #Review – The Last Stage by Louise Voss (@louisevoss1) @OrendaBooks @AnneCater

My gosh its busy on TWG today! Blog tour three of the day is for ‘The Last Stage’ by Louise Voss. Many thanks to Anne Cater and Orenda for the blog tour invite. Here is my review:

At the peak of her career as lead singer of a legendary 1980s indie band, Meredith Vincent was driven off the international stage by a horrific incident. Now living a quiet existence in a cottage on the grounds of an old stately home, she has put her past behind her and come to terms with her new life.

When a body is found in the manicured gardens of her home, and a series of inexplicable and unsettling events begins to occur, it becomes clear that someone is watching, someone who knows who she is … Someone who wants vengeance.

And this is only the beginning…

What does TWG think?

Gosh – where to begin!!

This book is uniqueness at its finest; a compelling, seductively suspenseful read which had me bending over backwards to finish.

Louise Voss has incorporated a lot of things into one storyline, and instead of the entire book coming across as overwhelming or too much too soon, the author made it work by allowing her characters to put a spell on me.

The idea of stepping back in time with Meredith and what happened THAT night, was very cleverly done and moved the story seamlessly into the present day where we find out what the aftermath of that horrific night ended up being.

I had absolutely no idea who or what was behind everything, but the thrill of finding out kept me on the edge of my seat. ‘The Last Stage’ may be a dark and psychologically twisted read, however it certainly deserves a place on it’s very own stage to have it’s time in the spotlight. Brilliant storytelling of a outstnading and compulsive read – whats not to like!!

Buy now from Amazon UK

#BlogTour! #Review – #Breakers by Doug Johnstone (@doug_johnstone) @OrendaBooks @AnneCater

Another RandomThingsTour for you all this afternoon! It is a pleasure to be reviewing ‘Breakers’ by Doug Johnstone for the blog tour today, many thanks to Anne Cater for having me involved. Also, many thanks to Anne and Orenda for the ARC, here is my review:

Seventeen-year-old Tyler lives in one of Edinburgh’s most deprived areas. Coerced into robbing rich people’s homes by his bullying older siblings, he’s also trying to care for his little sister and his drug-addict mum.
On a job, his brother Barry stabs a homeowner and leaves her for dead, but that’s just the beginning of their nightmare, because the woman is the wife of Edinburgh’s biggest crime lord, Deke Holt.
With the police and the Holts closing in, and his shattered family in devastating danger, Tyler meets posh girl Flick in another stranger’s house, and he thinks she may just be his salvation … unless he drags her down too.

What does TWG think?

I have no idea where to begin with this review. I mean, ‘Breakers’ is like nothing I have ever read before, I’m not entirely sure I have the right words to convey my thoughts properly! I’ll given it a damn good go though!

Set in an area of Edinburgh which makes a lot of people wince should they hear the name, ‘Breakers’ tells the story of a young lad called, Tyler, who isn’t your typical 17 year old. Seriously. Someone of his age should be hanging out with his mates, not looking after his little sister and a mum who likes to collect empty alcohol bottles…after emptying them herself, obviously. Not only that, Tyler is stuck between obeying the law, and being on the wrong side of his half brother, Barry.

If I could guarantee that my review would be allowed on Amazon with many expletives, I would happily share my unedited opinion of Barry. However, because I know that the computer will say no, you’ll have to make do with this; Barry is a cactus. A cactus who deserves to be castrated and given a taste of his own medicine. I really dislike him….like properly dislike him. If he was on fire or had a jellyfish sting, well, I wouldn’t be urinating on him to help, that’s for sure!

Because of Barry’s stupidity and Tyler’s fear of getting on the wrong side of ol’ Bazza, the brothers end up looking over their shoulders in fear of crime big man, Deke, getting a hold of them. What would you do in Tyler’s position? Hes got to look after his little sister, keep his mum in check, and run the house so that social services doesn’t come and split him and his sister up. He needs quick money, is burglary the way to do it? Honestly? We all know that it’s illegal and immoral, yet it’s also something that some people wouldn’t do unless they absolutely had to. I can’t judge a situation I have never been in, but I will admit that I did look at both sides of the coin.

I can get quite emotional about things if young children are involved, and this book was no different. At times I felt that I couldn’t continue due to my own fear about what would happen to his little sister, but on the other hand, I was unable to put the book down because I was absolutely hooked by the compelling storyline.

‘Breakers’ is an incredibly dark, eye opening novel which highlights the lengths which people can go if they are forced, or if they have no other option. I was scared for Tyler, I won’t lie, but I had everything crossed that he would do the right thing and finally protect himself in the long run.

This is such an addictive, heartwrenching, dark and poignant read which held me hostage from the get go. A very, very impressive read – I won’t be forgetting this storyline in a hurry!

Buy now!

#BlogTour! #Review – Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald (@FitzHelen) @OrendaBooks @AnneCater

worst case blog poster 2019 (1)
Woo! Day three of the ‘Worst Case Scenario’ blog tour is here, which means I get to share my review of Helen Fitzgerald’s latest beauty! Huge thanks, as always, to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for the blog tour invite!

Worst Case Scenario Cover
Mary Shields is a moody, acerbic probation offer, dealing with some of Glasgow’s worst cases, and her job is on the line. Liam Macdowall was imprisoned for murdering his wife, and he’s published a series of letters to the dead woman, in a book that makes him an unlikely hero – and a poster boy for Men’s Rights activists.

Liam is released on licence into Mary’s care, but things are far from simple. Mary develops a poisonous obsession with Liam and his world, and when her son and Liam’s daughter form a relationship, Mary will stop at nothing to impose her own brand of justice … with devastating consequences.

What does TWG think?

This book honestly has the best first line I think I have ever read! Given the theme of the sentence, so to speak, I probably shouldn’t like it, but the fact that it was such a bold and intriguing opening just made me want to ignore everyone around me until I had finished reading it.

Mary, Mary, Mary. What a woman! She doesn’t give a monkeys, and yet she owns that like a woman scorned. Sorry, a menopausal woman! Seeing as I have not had the pleasure of going through the menopause just yet, it was quite insightful to follow a character whose honesty about the subject was incredibly refreshing in the jaw dropping, severely shocking kind of way.

As much as I would love to sit here and talk about Mary’s quirks for the entire review, I have to touch upon the fact that ‘Worst Case Scenario’ isn’t a read about a menopausal woman who is cheesed off – the storyline does contain some rather dark and sinister events regarding a man named Liam, a wife murderer. Now, there is a lot more to him that meets the eye. If you were to quickly glance at the character and the way that he comes across in the story, you may find that you teeter towards empathy, purely because he doesn’t come across as a monster wife murderer….for a short space of time anyway.

I adore Helen Fitzgerald’s unique, addictive, and honest story telling as she makes several characters from different walks of life, come alive in such a laugh-out-loud, boisterous manner which had me telling myself off for proper belly laughing at some of the antics described in the book.

‘Worst Case Scenario’ is a brilliant, brilliant book that had me thinking ‘what the f….aalalala’ more times than I can count, leaving me with my jaw hanging off its hinges at the very end. This is definitely a one of a kind read, one that Helen Fitzgerald has delivered in the only way that she knows how; phenomenally.

Buy now!

#BlogTour! #Review – The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon (@vandasymon) @OrendaBooks @AnneCater

Many thanks to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for the blog tour invite and ARC; here is my review of The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon.

Marginalised by previous antics, Sam Shephard, is on the bottom rung of detective training in Dunedin, and her boss makes sure she knows it. She gets involved in her first homicide investigation, when a university student is murdered in the Botanic Gardens, and Sam soon discovers this is not an isolated incident. There is a chilling prospect of a predator loose in Dunedin, and a very strong possibility that the deaths are linked to a visiting circus…

Determined to find out who’s running the show, and to prove herself, Sam throws herself into an investigation that can have only one ending…

What does TWG think?

I really suggest that, before reading ‘The Ringmaster’, that you read the previous book in the series. I didn’t do this and I wish I had, as I feel like my experience of the latest book would have been more in depth if I had.

‘The Ringmaster’ is rather clever and full of wit. I didn’t know want to make of Sam Shephard though, to be honest. I felt that the character had so much to give, yet had the type of personality which was multi layered and only available to those she trusted. Again, very cleverly done as my interest to Sam’s psyche, was constantly piqued.

I enjoyed the unique setting of the book, and felt that it put the storyline on the map in a way I have never seen before. I was very impressed by the well written passages, and complex storyline which left me wanting more.

I did, however, feel as though something was missing so for me personally, I struggled to gel with the pace of the book and the notion that I had missed out on something, whatever that may have been.

All in all, it was a pleasure to pop my Vanda Symon cherry, and I am very looking forward to losing myself in the authors witty and atmospheric words once again.

Buy now.

#BlogTour! #Review – Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech (@LouiseWriter) @OrendaBooks @AnneCater #CallMeStarGirl

This lady needs no introduction, so, all I will say is I am HONOURED to be hosting the bird who wrote ‘Call Me Star Girl’ on the blog today. Huge thanks to Anne and Orenda Books for the blog tour invite, and to Jen for buying me a signed copy! Here is my review:

Stirring up secrets can be deadly … especially if they’re yours


Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and her killer hasn’t been caught.
Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers.

Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after fourteen years. She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father …

What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station … who says he knows who killed Victoria, and has proof.
Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything…

What does TWG think?

‘Starrrrrrrr, that’s what they call meeee.’

Got to love Kiki Dee!

Wow, wow, wow – what a striking read. I finished this book in the early hours of the morning a couple of days ago, with my eyes glistening with unshed tears for our Star Girl. I was bereft. Empowered. Emotionally drained. I was overcome with feelings that I struggled to file away. ‘Call Me Star Girl’ isn’t book with Radio 2 at the core. It’s a book which takes both the readers, and the characters, on a journey they will never, ever forget.

How far would you go for love? I don’t mean washing your partner’s soiled pants, or clearing up their puke when they’re poorly. I’m talking about things a lot more complicated than that. Would you move heaven and Earth for your one and only, refusing to look anywhere other than the ground that they walk on? See, Stella showed love as an obsession. An obsession which clouded her judgement and looking at her life through rose coloured glasses. They say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree – just look at Stella’s mother for example. I won’t divulge why, but it will all make sense once you come across that particular character.

Stella’s love life isn’t the only concerning thing in this book. Nope. Someone has lost their life. An act of revenge? Or an accident? Stella, thanks to her job in the radio station, hears on the news reports regarding that devastating night and, thankfully, she can look at the situation from afar. Not for long though. How does the death of Victoria Valbon, concern Stella? And why is someone being a smart alec?

Atmospheric would be one word to describe this particular storyline, but in all honesty, I think the words ‘bloody outstanding’ work a lot better. Louise Beech left me in a predicament I had never found myself in before, thanks to a storyline which, if you looked in the dictionary under the word ‘unique’, you’ll find that the definition is ‘Call Me Star Girl – Louise Beech’.

This is a story that highlights the beauty of books. A story which had me so overcome with emotion, my tears refused to flow. A story so unique, its left an imprint on my soul. Louise Beech is an exceptionally talented, majestic, and enchanting author who writes with incredible passion, poise, and sheer brilliance.

One of the best books I think I have ever read, ‘Call Me Star Girl’ is everything that’s right with the literary world.

Buy now!

#BlogTour! #Review – Inborn by Thomas Enger (@EngerThomas) @AnneCater @OrendaBooks

I need to start this post today with an apology as I had managed to put my tour stop on the wrong day in my diary, meaning that I was meant to have posted yesterday. Many thanks to Anne Cater for the patience with my error.

I am excited to be reviewing ‘Inborn’ by Thomas Enger today – huge thanks to Anne Cater and Orenda for the blog tour invite and ARC. Here is my review:

What turns a boy into a killer?

When the high school in the small Norwegian village of Fredheim becomes a murder scene, the finger is soon pointed at seventeen-year-old Even. As the investigation closes in, social media is ablaze with accusations, rumours and even threats, and Even finds himself the subject of an online trial as well as being in the dock … for murder?

Even pores over his memories of the months leading up to the crime, and it becomes clear that more than one villager was acting suspiciously … and secrets are simmering beneath the calm surface of this close-knit community.  As events from the past play tag with the present, he’s forced to question everything he thought he knew. Was the death of his father in a car crash a decade earlier really accidental? Has a relationship stirred up something that someone is prepared to kill to protect?

It seems that there may be no one that Even can trust.

But can we trust him?

What does TWG think?

OMG this book was addictive!!!!! If you exclude the times where I had to put the book down to feed the mini human and pets (how rude!), I can safely say that I devoured ‘Inborn’ in a matter of hours. Such a clever, clever novel which highlights the fact that nothing is ever as it seems.

The prologue to ‘Inborn’ was absolutely cracking and set the wheels in most for the rest of the book. Who was the person there? Why were they there? Who else was in the vicinity at the same time? Something bad had happened, but the reasoning as to why was nowhere to be seen. Well, not for a while anyway.

‘Inborn’ is a strong case of mistaken identity in the sense that even individual characters were left questioning themselves, even though they knew the truth. But did they really? The fact that I was left questioning every little detail in the book was strong proof that Thomas Enger is incredible at keeping his readers on their toes. I could not believe just how complex each scenario in the storyline was written, whilst also being woven into various other situations seamlessly and flawlessly.

‘Inborn’ kept me face muscles working until the very last page as my expressions switched between shocked, uncertainty and disbelief, time and time again – I couldn’t believe what my eyes were digesting and, to be brutally honest, I still can’t!

As I said at the start of the review, I thought this book was so very clever and I loved every single minute of it. From psychologically damaging relationships to uncertain answers, and from complex thoughts to twisted judgements, ‘Inborn’ is one of the most psychologically twisted books I have read so far this year.

Utterly, utterly brilliant – I urge you all to grab yourselves a copy to be put under Thomas Enger’s spell. Looooooved it!!

Buy now!