BLOG TOUR: The Burning Girls

I’m lucky enough to be joining the blog tour today to celebrate the release of the highly anticipated book, The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor. C.J Tudor is best known for her dark, thrilling novels such as ‘The Chalk Man’ which hit the shelves back in 2018.

Her new release, The Burning Girls is just as dark and just as thrilling as expected, but also cleverly plays upon years of Sussex history and tradition…

Five hundred years ago in a place named Chapel Croft, eight protestant martyrs were burned at the stake. Thirty years ago, two teenage girls disappeared without a trace. And two months ago, the vicar of the local parish killed himself.

Reverend Jack Brooks, a single parent with a fourteen-year-old daughter and a heavy conscience, arrives in the village hoping to make a fresh start and find some peace. Instead, Jack finds a town mired in secrecy and a strange welcome package: an old exorcism kit.

The more she and her daughter Flo get acquainted with the town and its strange denizens, the deeper they are drawn into their rifts, mysteries, and suspicions. And when Flo is troubled by strange sightings in the old chapel, it becomes apparent that there are ghosts here that refuse to be laid to rest.

But uncovering the truth can be deadly in a village where everyone has something to protect, everyone has links with the village’s bloody past, and no one trusts an outsider.

What Did I Think?

As you know by now, there is nothing that excites me more than a devilish thriller that I can sink my teeth into and The Burning Girls was just that. I had to forcefully tear myself away from the pages and I can easily see how some may devour this book in one sitting.

I absolutely adored C.J Tudor’s writing. She let us grow close to the protagonists but made sure we didn’t trust any of them. The character development is so effortless, I didn’t realise it was happening until the very end.

The pace of the book was also phenomenal. The short, quick chapters were just enough to entice you in, and then brutally leave you hanging. I love to work out the plot/culprit whilst I’m reading, and I loved that every chapter gives you a hint of a clue but still leaves you itching to know more…

Although the book is quite dark and gruesome in some parts, the writing is impeccable and personally, I think it is everything you want from a thriller. Quick chapters. Short sentences. Unnerving scenes. Unpredictable characters.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and I’m so glad that it was my first book thriller of 2021. I loved it that much that I actually texted my best friend, telling her to grab a copy so we could discuss. Definitely one to add to your TBR if you love an edge-of-your-seat thriller dipped in history.

At Home With The Four Indies Book Event

I also had the pleasure in attending the At Home With The Four Indies book event in which C.J Tudor herself, along with Will Dean, discussed their new releases.

C.J. Tudor spoke about her inspiration from the book stemming from her recent move to Sussex, where she stumbled across the traditions of a local town, Lewes. It is the tradition in Lewes to hold bonfires in remembrance of the Protestants who were burnt there. Upon hearing about this tradition and landing herself in a part of the UK that just screamed American Gothic, she was inspired to write a folk horror/thriller that plays upon this bloody and macabre history.

I always find it fascinating to hear the author speak about how they came to write the book and listening to C.J Tudor discuss her inspiration for The Burning Girls just made it SO much more interesting when I came to read it.

If you do decide to read it, I hope you love it as much as I did. It definitely did NOT disappoint.

The Burning Girls

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Publisher: Michael Joseph (Penguin)
Published: 2021
Genre: Thriller, Horror
# of Pages: 400
Trigger Warnings: Murder, death, suicide, abuse, child abuse, blood, homelessness, sexual abuse
Links: Goodreads, Amazon, Blackwells

As always, thank you to Gaby Young, Michael Joesph and C.J Tudor for letting me be part of the blog tour for this spectacular novel.

ARC REVIEW: The Thief on the Winged Horse

“Happy is as happy does, my brother. If she dwelled on her misfortunes less, then less misfortune would befall her.”

Why Did I Read This Book?

I was kindly gifted an ARC of this book by Victoria at Head of Zeus and I took a chance on this one because fantasy is not my usual genre. The book is out now, and I read the book last month in the lead up to its publication.

What Did I Think?

As I just mentioned, fantasy isn’t my usual sort of thing, but I decided to push the boat out and try something different as the blurb sounded too good to miss…

‘The Kendrick family have been making world-famous dolls since the early 1800s. But their dolls are not coveted for the craftmanship alone. Each one has a specific emotion laid on it by its creator. A magic that can make you feel bucolic bliss or consuming paranoia at a single touch. Though founded by sisters, now only men may know the secrets of the workshop.

Persephone Kendrick longs to break tradition and learn the family craft, and when a handsome stranger arrives claiming doll-making talent and a blood tie to the Kendricks, she sees a chance to grasp all she desires.

But then, one night, the family’s most valuable doll is stolen. Only someone with knowledge of magic could have taken her.’

I really loved the concept of the book that combined doll making and magic. Doll making, in my opinion, is an old-fashioned art that isn’t done hardly as beautifully as it was in previous centuries. What Kate Mascarenhas does beautifully is take us back to a time where this art was celebrated and magically combines this with sorcery.

I loved the family history aspect to the story, and you can really tell how much thought must have gone into creating this community of doll-makers. Our main character, Persephone, is one I absolutely adored. I loved how strong-willed she was, but I also liked how the author made her naïve to her strength and the people around her, to make her growth more substantial.

A recurring theme throughout the book is women’s equality and I thought it was very clever of the author to raise awareness of gender inequality through the means of doll-making/magic. Obviously, the fact that dolls are women, but made by only men, highlights several issues that we can relate to in industries that exist today. Many of the male characters are sexist (some realising it and others not) and refuse to believe that women have the power, patience, and talent to create dolls or control magic.

“Those men don’t want to look at beauty. They want to look at something made for them, to confirm their desire is the most important thing in the world; they want their dolls like they want their women, a painted smile, no internal life of her own and you can blame her for your passions.”

Instead, the female characters within the book are only allowed to hold working positions such as household duties and retail. Persephone is no stranger to these inequalities and is determined to make everyone recognise her talent. Yet with an alcoholic father, and a mother who left her to make something of herself, it’s not easy for Persephone.

There were many uneasy characters in this book, and I loved how Kate made us believe that it could be any of them who stole the valuable doll.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and liked it more than I ever thought I would. My only issue was it took me a while to get into the book at the start is very slow to set the scene and provide the relevant background information. So understandably, the action doesn’t kick in for a while. Yet when the story does get going, it’s definitely one you wish you’d read sooner. 

The Thief on The Winged Horse

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Published: 2020
Publisher: Head of Zeus
# of Pages: 400
Genre: Fantasy
Trigger Warnings: Alcoholism, robbery, family feuds, sexism
Links: Goodreads, Amazon, Blackwells

ARC REVIEW: The Heart Club

My last (but certainly not least) stop on the #12DaysOfClinkStreet is my review of The Heart Club by Tom Treasure. Suffering from a heart condition myself, I was extremely interested in this one when Clink Street Publishing offered me a gifted copy in exchange for a review.

The book was certainly more informative and serious than what I normally read but I was fascinated about the progress medical research and technological advances has been made since the 1940s. A perfect read if you’re looking for something more serious.

Last (but certainly not least) is my review of The Heart Club by Tom Treasure

Here’s the blurb:

Surgery on the heart was explicitly ruled out by the medical teaching of the 1940s.

A team of London doctors and scientists led by Russell Brock were determined to challenge and reverse that dogma. Together, they would help to change the history of heart surgery and the chances of survival for future patients. Brock, who had cared for the injured in London throughout the war, was poised to operate on the heart. The outstanding American surgeon Dwight Harken had trained under Brock at the Brompton. They later spent time together at a US army hospital, set in a cluster of huts in the English countryside in anticipation of the 1944 D-day landings. Brock watched Harken remove bullets and shrapnel from soldiers’ hearts and heard him speak at a 1945 meeting of British surgeons. Harken told them about operations on 134 soldiers, all of whom had survived. Coincidentally, wartime comrades in the allied forces medical services had built a bond between Guy’s and Johns Hopkins Hospital, funded by the Clothworkers’ Livery Company. This brought the surgeon Alfred Blalock to Guy’s in 1947 to perform and teach a new operation for children with fatal congenital heart disease. These were familiar at the time as ‘blue babies’ and the operations began to save their lives. With this tangible evidence from Harken and Blalock, Brock’s group — they called themselves a ‘club’ — set out to advance heart surgery.

Their work was meticulously chronicled in a rediscovered volume of minutes which form The Heart Club by cardiothoracic surgeon Tom Treasure. Many of the doctors who were members of the club were his teachers and mentors. To complete the story, three survivors, whose lives were saved by early heart operations, tell their life stories from being blue babies of the 1940s to the present.

The Heart Club is a remarkable account of the magic of medicine and the tenacity of surgical pioneers.

The Heart Club

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Published: 2017
Genre: Non-fiction
# of Pages: 312
Links: Goodreads, Amazon

ARC REVIEW: Olga’s Egg

My next stop on the #12DaysOfClinkStreet comes with a review of Olga’s Egg by Sophie Law. I picked this book to review from Clink Street Publishing because it looks gorgeous and it was something out of my comfort zone.

Next up is my review of Olga’s Egg by Sophie Law

Here’s the blurb:

When Fabergé specialist Assia Wynfield learns of the discovery of a long-lost Fabergé egg made for the Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna, daughter of the last Tsar of Russia, she appears to be the only person with misgivings. On travelling to St. Petersburg to see the egg, Assia moves among Russia’s new rich but finds herself pulled back into a family past she would rather forget. With news that a friend is missing, Assia starts to dig deeper. But does she really want the answers to the questions she is asking? Set in today’s glamorous world of Russian art with glimpses into the lives of the last Romanovs as their empire crumbled in the wake of the Russian Revolution, Olga’s Egg is an enthralling tale of love, family secrets and the artistic treasures that conceal them.

I really enjoyed this book and I thought the storytelling was magnificent. If you’re like me, you probably don’t have a clue of what a Fabergé egg is or how to say it properly. I loved how the book transported me into the depths of Russian culture and it was VERY obvious that the author had done her research.

A great read and now I want my own Fabergé egg too…

Olga’s Egg

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Published:
2018
Genre:
Thriller
# of Pages:
314
Links:
Goodreads, Amazon

BLOG TOUR: Smile of Deceit

It is my absolute pleasure to be kicking off the blog tour for Smile of Deceit today! You know me, I love a good thriller and this one didn’t disappoint. What I loved most about this book was the setting. From the mountains of the French Alps to a ski lodge just north of Lake Bled, Newman does a fantastic job of making us feel right there, in the middle of all the drama.

Thank you to Faye @ Authoright, Clink Street Publishing and Keith Newman for providing me with a free copy of this fabulous new release and for allowing me to be part of this blog tour…LET’S GET TO IT!

The Book:

When two teenage girls disappear exactly sixteen years apart, police are convinced that the cases must be connected. One suspect was present on both occasions and now he has checked out of his hotel early and cannot be found.

But nothing is straightforward and it becomes clear that police involved in the original investigation have secrets of their own. When the cold case is reopened new evidence about both girls is established quickly, and there is a strong suspicion that the police are being manipulated.

Ruby Delacourt, the partner of the main suspect, is convinced that he is innocent and she uses her skill as a reporter to do her own digging. But she helps to uncover a much darker side to his character and an unexpected link between the two cases.

The Author:

My name is Keith Newman and I have two things in common with Rodney, the character in ‘Only Fools and Horses’ – we are both tall and slim (well at least I was when I was his age) and we both have one ‘O’ level.  Perhaps the similarity ends there.

My full-time formal education stopped when I was 15 in 1957 so I am getting on a bit. Lewes Secondary Modern School for Boys was good for us in many ways – we had to behave ourselves, were taught to work hard or else, and not be too interested in the girls from the school next door.

My first job was as office boy at the local council offices.  It wasn’t long before I knew what everyone was doing in their own little rooms and I probably knew more about the people working there than the boss did.  I moved about quite a bit in the same department, but was always able to select the best manager to work with based on my insight into the various power struggles.  I paid invoices, moved trampolines from one school to another (only losing one in the process) and helped to organise the 11+ examination.  Then I ended up in Personnel (HR as it’s now called).  We had 36,000 employees working in about 300 sites and I got to visit every one.  It was my dream job and I ended up managing the whole team.  We certainly had a variety of problems.

But now in my retirement I’ve started to write fiction and I can for the first time in my life be creative.  My first book, ‘Smile of Deceit’ is a crime thriller and I am already planning the next one.

Smile of Deceit

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Published: 2020
# of Pages: 478
Genre: Crime, Thriller
Links: Goodreads, Amazon

BLOG TOUR: Bent Coppers by Norman Pilcher

So today is my turn to join the Bent Coppers Blog tour hosted by Faye at Authoright. When this blog tour was announced, I was so excited to be part of it because there is nothing I love more than a good police drama but this is the story of the man who arrested some HUGE names which makes it even more special.

Complete with real police reports and Pilcher’s witty humour, Bent Coppers is the perfect read for those who want to experience what it was like being a policeman in the 1960s, when the force was corrupt and had its fair share of cover ups.

The Book

Bent Coppers is the electrifying true story of Norman Pilcher, the most infamous police officer in British law enforcement history. Truth and justice were the tenets of Pilcher’s war against crime in the capital, but they soon collapsed in a landslide of scandal, perjury and blazing newspaper headlines. 

The man who arrested The Beatles and The Rolling Stones would pay the ultimate price for his service. Finally he sets the record straight.

An Extract

My name is Norman Pilcher. I was a policeman in the 1960s in London during a period when the Met Police was rotten to its core. Now I have reached a ripe old age, I plan to set the record straight on a few things concerning my reputation, and that of my team. I write this story not from a bitter or pained place, but one of understanding. I was naïve at the time; I am not anymore. My hope is that in straightening out rumours and hearsay that a record will then exist which is more powerful than gossip and newspaper stories, because this record is the truth and truth is the most powerful thing of all.

The backdrop to my career was the Swinging Sixties, which most people think of as an era of celebration. Beatlemania, counterculture and social revolution were how it became popularised. The sexual revolution, and questioning authority with marijuana, LSD and psychedelic music – that’s what many people stood for. So, as you can imagine, being a policeman arresting pop stars for taking drugs was not going to score me any brownie points with the public during this period of change! The thing was though, I did not join the Met for popularity; I did it for other reasons and it was not to arrest famous people, I can assure you of that. Perhaps without being able to articulate it at the time, I wanted to do something sincerely useful in this world. By preventing something bad from happening, stopping someone doing something wrong or dealing with somebody when they had done wrong, I could make my contribution. What I learnt was that the majority of people were good people. And a lot of people were simply rebelling.

The Author

Pilcher was a policeman in the 1960’s in London during a period when the Met Police was rotten to the core. He grew up in Margate (but now lives in the Tunbridge Wells area.) He had a great family life and never got into trouble, because if he had he’d have got a good old thumping from his dad.

“I went into the building trade on an apprenticeship when school finished. I didn’t like it, so when my dad came back from racing pigeons, I told him that I fancied joining the army which I did. I trained at Woking and joined the Military Police and like my dad, I went to North Africa. As I was part of the Military Police, I was destined to be a copper, so when I came back, I joined the Met Police.”

You can follow Norman on Twitter and Facebook to find out more about the book and to be kept up to date with all his latest ventures!

Bent Coppers

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Published: 2020
# of Pages: 184
Genre: Memoir
Links: Goodreads, Amazon

BLOG TOUR: Moonlit Dreams, Moonlit Nightmares

Today I am thrilled to be joining the blog tour for Moonlit Dreams, Moonlit Nightmares; an anthology compiled and edited by Laura Seeber.

The Synopsis:

The moon has always been with us — tempting us, enticing us, and enthralling us through the ages. Here you’ll find thirteen stories involving this heavenly body — sometimes tragic, magical, and other times mysterious, or horrific, but always, memorable. Contributors include both veteran and first-time authors alike, and hail from around the world, including the United States, India, United Kingdom, and Greece.

The Contributors:

Laura Seeber

Laura Seeber actually performed double duty on this anthology, acting both as a contributor and editor (so any typo complaints- send her way!). When she’s not writing horror, mystery, or dark science fiction, she spends her time divided between her young son and husband, her freelance writing business, and Antimony and Elder Lace Press.

Todd Taylor – Todd Taylor teaches high school ELA, Creative Writing, and Theater in an inner-city Memphis-area School. His short story, “The Experiment,” was published by Laura Seeber in the summer of 2019 in an anthology called, Moonlit Dreams / Moonlit Nightmares. He has also written a play for his theatre class that is being performed at 3 different high schools and has 2 completed novels he is looking to publish. When Todd is not writing, he spends his time coaching track and field, playing guitar in a local band, woodworking, performing weddings/funerals, or relaxing with Sudoku.

Shaun Avery – Shaun Avery writes fiction in a number of different mediums, normally with a dark or satirical slant, and often both at once. “The First Victims Club” comes from questions raised by watching horror movies. A LOT of horror movies. He also loves comics, and has co-created a self-published one, more details of which can be found here. Unsurprisingly, this is also a horror.

A.P. Sessler – A resident of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, A.P. frequents an alternate universe not too different from your own, searching for that unique element that twists the everyday commonplace into the weird. When he’s not writing fiction, he composes music, makes art, and spends too much time trying to connect with his inner genius. His first novel House of the Goat came out in January. It’s an homage to the Satanic Panic genre of the ’70s-’80s and can be found here.

Lori Tiron-Pandit – Lori Tiron-Pandit is a writer, editor, and Web communication professional. Her work celebrates women’s lives and work, of both mystical and mundane significance, as well as their ancestral and contemporary imprint on the world. Growing up with the “great” “classics” of literature, all men, only very late did she realise that the male perspective was not all there was, that it was skewed and small, and it ignored women’s views. Her work is rooted in the worlds of women she’s been lucky to cross paths with.

Thomas Vaughn – Thomas Vaughn is an author of literary horror and dark magical realism. He came from the debris field of rural Arkansas where he persists in uncertainty. When he is not writing fiction, he poses as a college professor whose research focuses on apocalyptic rhetoric. For him fiction serves as a tool to mediate the terrible reality that encompasses all humanity. These works represent his clumsy efforts to seek awareness in the face of a stillborn universe. And so he pulses, waiting for a reply in the void.

Cara Fox – Cara Fox is an English author trying to write her way out of the dark. She favours steampunk, horror and Gothic romance, but you can find her anywhere that the stories sink their claws into you and the wine flows freely. Her work has been published by Tales To Terrify, Empyreome, Broadswords & Blasters and Horror Addicts, amongst others, and she is working on her debut novel, The Strange Case of Doctor Magorian.

Parineeta Singh – Parineeta Singh currently lives in Delhi, India, and has earned a Ph.D in Creative Writing from the University of Surrey, as well as a Master’s Degree in the same field from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Her work has appeared in many international magazines and anthologies, and we’re thrilled to have her talent showcased here as well.

Dawn J. Stevens – Dawn Juniper Stevens is the fiction pen name for Kara Kelso. She has been writing short stories and poetry for nearly 30 years, with the past 20 years spent writing an assortment of business, hobby, and nonfiction articles for a variety of businesses, websites, and projects. There aren’t too many types of writing she hasn’t dabbled in at least once, but fiction remains her favourite. “Kira’s Tale: Descend into Darkness” was released in 2013 and is currently available on Amazon.

Jesse Moak – Jesse Moak is a lifetime writer and dreamer who has been perfecting his craft and pursuing the dream of becoming a professional writer for some time. When he isn’t actively searching for an agent or writing other stories, he spends his time exploring his other passion for retro gaming.

Jamie Ryder – Jamie Ryder is a short story writer and pop culture content creator from Manchester, England. His short stories and poetry have been published by Hyperion and Theia, Colp, EastLit Magazine, AEL Press and more. You can find his other work on The Comic Vault, Yamato Magazine and The Rum Ration.

Sarah Walker – Sarah Walker is an author and mixed media artist who currently lives in Lebanon Oregon. When she isn’t busy writing, she spends her time creating art that explores the boundaries of reality.

Dimitris Psomadellis – Dimitris is a life-long writer that has been perfecting his craft in Mytilene, Greece for a number of years. “The Magic Circle” is his first published story with a professional publisher, and we have no doubt it will be the first of many.

What Did I Think?

If you know me, you know that I love the Gothic and horror genres. I’ve always found that there is something quite scary and uncanny about the moon at night. I’m also quite interested in how the moon can affect our moods and feelings and Moonlit Dreams, Moonlit Nightmares does a wonderful job of exploring these themes further.

The book focuses on the moon’s magical abilities and how this thinking has been around for centuries. Whether its bad omens, dreams or change, the moon can be seen as a reoccurring factor. If you are a fan of a spooky tale, I would highly recommend this collection of short stories. Probably best not to read them before bed though…

I would like to thank Blackthorn Book Tours for providing me with my advanced copy and for allowing me to take part in this wonderful blog tour. Moonlit Dreams, Moonlit Nightmares is available to buy online here.

BLOG TOUR: Come Join The Murder

Today I’m joining the blog tour for Holly Rae Garcia‘s debut novel, Come Join the Murder. Shout out to Blackthorn Book Tours and Holly for organising this blog tour and for providing me with an advanced copy of this shocking thriller!

The Blurb:

Rebecca Crow’s four-year-old son is dead, and her husband is missing.

Divers find her husband’s car at the bottom of a canal with their son’s small, lifeless body, inside. The police have no suspects and nothing to go on but a passing mention of a man driving a van. Guilt and grief cloud Rebecca’s thoughts as she stumbles towards her only mission: Revenge.

James Porter knows exactly what happened to them, but he’ll do anything to keep it a secret.

James didn’t plan to kill Rebecca’s son, but he’s not too broken up about it, either. There are more important things for him to worry about. He needs money, and his increasing appetite for murder is catching the attention of a nosy detective.

What Did I Think?

I am a huge fan of thrillers and this book did not disappoint. I was hooked from the very start, as Garcia teasingly leaves you wanting more and more.

What I loved most about this book is that we are given an invaluable insight into both Rebecca’s and James’ despair. After the events of the night that Rebecca’s son is killed and her husband goes missing, Garcia eloquently helps us see both of the characters’ struggles; Rebecca must pick up the pieces left behind by this tragic event whereas James must do all he can to protect his loved ones.

Don’t get me wrong, as much as I loved this story, it was difficult to read at times. The horror of a child being killed is never exactly easy reading but what Garcia does excellently in Come Join The Murder is she makes us at readers want to know every gory detail so we can help Rebecca’s quest for the truth.

Author Bio:

Holly’s short fiction has been published by Siren’s Call, The Bookends Review, Rue Scribe, Pen to Print, The Australian Writers’ Centre, and Trembling With Fear along with a few anthologies.

Holly lives on the Texas Coast with her family and five dogs. Be sure to follow Holly on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Genre: Thriller, Suspense
Published: 2020
Publisher: Close To The Bone Publishing UK
No. of Pages: 241
Goodreads
Amazon