#BlogTour #Review 4.5* #TheWintersChild by @cassandrajaneuk Cassandra Parkin @Legend_Press #NewRelease

*I received an arc via the publisher in return for an honest review*
The Winter’s Child by Cassandra Parkin

Five years ago, Susannah Harper’s son Joel went missing without trace. Bereft of her son and then of her husband, Susannah tries to accept that she may never know for certain what has happened to her lost loved ones. She has rebuilt her life around a simple selfless mission: to help others who, like her, must learn to live without hope.

But then, on the last night of Hull Fair, a fortune-teller makes an eerie prediction. She tells her that this Christmas Eve, Joel will finally come back to her.

As her carefully-constructed life begins to unravel, Susannah is drawn into a world of psychics and charlatans, half-truths and hauntings, friendships and betrayals, forcing her to confront the buried truths of her family’s past, where nothing and no one are quite as they seem.

A ghostly winter read with a modern gothic flavour. A tale of twisted love, family secrets and hauntings.

My review:

I knew reading this novel would be eerie for me, as my youngest son is also called Joel. However, even I could not be prepared for how eerie. The novel jumps between the respective years and so we see Joel at various stages of his childhood. The descriptions of Joel at 5yrs old, matched my son to a tee. All of a sudden I felt a huge feeling of unease. So much so that I decided to finish the novel that day and only did so, in the same room as my son!

Susannah Harper is the protagonist, she is a broken and damaged soul after the disappearance of her teenage son Joel. The disappearance occurred 5yrs ago, since then Susannah has started a blog about the dangers of psychics and how they target vulnerable individuals. The novel details her own accounts of incidents with psychics, including the one that finally pushed her husband to leave her.

The novel opens at Hull fair, where a Roma fortune teller informs her that on Christmas eve she will see her son’s face again. Susannah is at the fair with her sister Melanie and her niece and nephew. Joel disappeared one day, after leaving school at lunchtime and has never been seen since. The pain, grief and anguish of the mother is evident on every page. It feels so real and I began to be absorbed by her story.
But that is exactly what she had intended………..

“This will be the last Christmas eve you’ll see his face again” Psychic

Susanah’s blog entries are scattered throughout the novel. The make for fascinating reading. There are taunting and malicious comments from the ghouls and trolls of the internet world. Also details of her relationship with her son. They offer an insight into her most inner thoughts and show how she is barely coping under the strain. Through her blog she meets local mum Jackie whose son Ryan has also gone missing. A friendship forms and it is as bizarre as it is intense. The blog details the way psychics fool people and provides points for readers to take note of.

“They thrive off our belief, we’re what keep their profession alive” Susannah

As the plot unravel we learn more about Susannah’s marriage to John, Joel’s father. We also learn there was a strange family dynamic throughout Joel’s childhood. One of competitive loving and control. We learn that Joel was an unhappy and depressed teenager, struggling with life at every turn. The novel details the day of the disappearance. The police officers who worked the case DI Armstrong (Nick) and DC Wood.

“John always loved me the best, but the one I loved the best was Joel” Susannah

When Susannah begins to have visions of Joel, everywhere she goes. Her sister Melanie fears for her sanity and urges her to seek help. Instead Susannah finds comfort in the arms of married police officer Nick. The friendship with Jackie, is intensified when Susannah tricks her into visiting psychic James O’Brien. James offers cryptic clues and misinformation, then finally he has an announcement that left me gobsmacked………..

The visions increase as Christmas approaches and I really feared for Susannah, she is a vulnerable woman, with so many untrustworthy people surrounding her.
Susannah is desperate for the truth and she wants it at any cost……..

The novel moving around Joel’s lifetime really adds to the plots depth. The confusion and mystery is on overload and this novel has ending that will rip your heart out!
*You have been warned! 4.5*

Cassandra Parkin
Authors Links:
Twitter: @cassandrajaneuk
Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5419377.Cassandra_Parkin
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cassandra.parkin


#BlogTour #GuestPost #TheSecondSon by Andy Blackman #NewRelease @gilbster1000 #Belize

*Apologises for alternate date for #BlogTour post, this is due to a recent hospital admission*

The Second Son Cover
The Second Son by Andy Blackman

As the second son of the Duke of Hampshire, Grenville St John Hampton isn’t likely to inherit his family’s title or estate, leaving him pondering an empty, aimless future. During the summer break from university, he impulsively decides to go backpacking with one of his oldest friends, Johnathan; their destination is Belize.

One sultry night on the Central American coastline, Grenville and Johnathan meet Tom. A game of darts takes a vicious turn. Realising he has nothing to look forward to back at home, Grenville decides to stay on in Belize with Tom, in pursuit of adventure. Together, the new friends establish an import business, and for the first time in his life, Grenville has a sense of purpose.

But back in England all is not well. The sudden death of his brother leaves Grenville with an unexpected – and now unwanted – inheritance, with new consequences and responsibilities. He will return to claim the family’s seat with a dark secret in tow.


Why you choose Belize as a location?


The reason I chose Belize as the place where Tom and Grenville meet, is because whilst serving in the British Army I was lucky enough to have served there for six months in 1983.

In 1983 Belize is not the same country as it is today, in 1982 Belize was granted independence on 21 September 1981. Guatemala refused to recognize the new nation because of its longstanding territorial dispute with the British colony, claiming that Belize belonged to Guatemala. About 1,500 British troops remained in Belize to deter any possible incursions.

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Belize was always for the Army on a state of battle ready, but did not stop us from having a good time whilst there. The country was split in two parts by the Army, Belize North run from AirPort Camp from the Capital, Belize City, and Belize South run from Punta Gorda , where I was stationed. Punta Gorda was not as built as it is today the camp was situated some 5 miles from it in the jungle, but we used to take trips to Punta Gorda at weekends to visit the local bars.

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The border between Belize and Guatemala.

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The Border between Mexico and Belize.

So as I spent some time in Belize and knew the county quite well I decided to include it in my book, as it was a place I knew about and could confidential write about. I love my time spent in Belize and as I mentioned in my book the first thing that hits you is the heat, it is soul sucking and takes ages to get used to it, but eventually you do. The only way from the North to the South was by boat and my first few days in the country was on a small landing craft going down to Punta Gorda wishing like many others it would all end soon. That is why I could have Tom in my book sail his boat, as I had done it myself so I knew it was possible.

#BlogTour #Review #TheWatcher by Monika Jephcott Thomas 4* #NewRelease @gilbster1000 #ww2Fiction

*My Blog tour review is slightly delayed due to an unscheduled hospital stay*

TheWatcher_BannerThe Watcher by Monika Jephcott Thomas
It’s 1949 when Netta’s father Max is released from a Siberian POW camp and returns to his home in occupied Germany. But he is not the man the little girl is expecting – the brave, handsome doctor her mother Erika told her stories of. Erika too struggles to reconcile this withdrawn, volatile figure with the husband she knew and loved before, and, as she strives to break through the wall Max has built around himself, Netta is both frightened and jealous of this interloper in the previously cosy household she shared with her mother and doting grandparents. Now, if family life isn’t tough enough, it is about to get even tougher, when a murder sparks a police investigation, which begins to unearth dark secrets they all hoped had been forgotten.

My review:

I am a huge ww2 fiction fan! When I read the synopsis of this novel, I was immediately intrigued. I found the theme of a soldier overcoming the horror he has witnessed, fascinating. I also like the unique theme of the protagonist being a German POW, held by the Russians. A theme slightly neglected, in my opinion. This novel does debate the theory of the German guilt, post-ww2. Either by German civilians or soldiers themselves. It is very cleverly constructed so that you see the topic from various angles.

The novel opens with Max having recently returned from 4yrs hard labour in a Siberian camp. He appears physically and emotionally broken. We are aware he is having trouble battling the mental torment and processing the physical torture he has both witnessed and been a victim of. Max returns to his wife Erika, who has kept herself rather busy with another man. Her guilt for this affair and pain at watching Max struggle fuel her narrative within the novel. But Max and Erika, also have a young daughter named Netta. Netta is just as confused as all the adults in her life and is desperate her life returns to normal. Meanwhile you are aware that somewhere out there is the watcher……….

“If I were a little bird and had wings, I would fly to you…”

Max and Erika are both trained and qualified Doctors. Max was working in a field hospital when he was captured. Throughout the novel, it is scattered with Max’s memories of what he has been forced to endure, it does not make for easy reading. But fully explores how much ww2 POWs were subjected to. “Six of our boys nailed to the table by their tongues, ten hung up from meat hooks in the slaughterhouse and another fifteen thrown down the well and stoned to death. Bloody barbarians those Bolshevists” Obviously as the reader you are aware of the irony, that Max feels so abused and brutalised. When you are aware Nazi ideology, was much the same. But then that fact suddenly dawns on Max.

“God is punishing us for what we did to the rest of the world” Max

Max’s daily struggle, seems almost to be reaching breaking point. Then their maid Karin, is found murdered! Did Max’s mental health finally snap? Was it Erika’s jealousy? Or does an allied soldier lurk to prey on young women? Was it Karin’s disgruntled lover? At the end, all is revealed and the characters are forced to come to terms with who they really are and the impact the war has had upon them.
A thoroughly emotive ww2 fiction novel. 4*

#BlogTour #GuestPost #DIClayton #TheBadSister by @annepenketh @JoffeBooks

Burning woman
The Bad Sister by Anne Penketh

THE BAD SISTER by Anne Penketh


DI Sam Clayton is called to a murder scene in Holt, not expecting to find his estranged sister at the scene. Her husband, Henry Lambton, has been murdered. Clayton is taken off the case and DS Julie Everett continues the investigation.

Clayton focuses on a vicious arson attack in Norwich. The fire killed a Polish family in their home. It seems to be part of a series of racist attacks connected to an extremist group.

The two crimes stretch the team and both come dangerously close to home. And can Clayton forgive his sister for what happened over twenty years ago?

In a thrilling conclusion, they race against time to prevent more attacks and get justice for their loved and not so loved ones.

THE BAD SISTER is the second in a new series of page-turning crime thrillers set in an atmospheric part of Norfolk. Perfect for fans of LJ Ross, Mel Sherratt, Colin Dexter, or Ruth Rendell.


Detective Inspector Sam Clayton leads the investigation into the North Norfolk murders, joined the police straight from school as a beat bobby in Manchester before rising through the ranks of the CID. He was transferred to Norwich after being promoted to DI following a high-profile case investigated by Lancashire Constabulary.

 Detective Sergeant Neil Pringle lives with his third wife in Norwich, where he was born. But taking care of his two sons with his wife Megan, and two other children with previous wives, has put his finances under strain. He never misses a chance to shine in hopes of securing promotion, and can’t help showing off his local knowledge to colleagues.

 Detective Sergeant Julie Everett is an intuitive officer who was promoted to detective sergeant from her home town of Ipswich where she had a background in child protection. She is discreet about her personal life among colleagues, particularly about the tragedy which haunts her. She has to deal with a high-pressure job while raising her child who moved with her to Norwich.


The DI Clayton novels

When I first visited the picture-perfect village of Blakeney and its seal colony on the north Norfolk coast, and watched the mist roll in, I remember thinking idly: this place would make a great setting for a murder mystery.

Years later, when I began writing fiction, I had the perfect excuse to spend more time in that area where my relatives live. I decided that if my detective, Sam Clayton, moved from his (and my) native Lancashire to Norfolk, I could discover East Anglia in his company. So the Sam Clayton novels are inspired first and foremost by a place.

When my husband died suddenly I was going through his things and began wondering how well I’d really known him. This got me thinking about how well we know anybody, and the secrets that we keep, and I decided to explore this specifically in the context of murder investigations. I’d also noticed that in crime novels the bereaved are often ignored or set aside in the story very quickly, and I wanted to recognise the reality for victims’ families as they struggle to come to terms with the sudden disappearance of a loved one. That’s why DS Julie Everett has experienced a personal tragedy which has haunted her for years and affected both her health and professional outlook.

As for Sam Clayton, I find it fascinating to explore his complexities which become more apparent in the second novel in the series. I think it’s not always easy for some men to deal with strong women, and they can find us intimidating. He expresses his frustrations through aggression which can be misinterpreted by those around him. As he’s not prone to introspection, I’m not sure how well he knows himself, although he’d be surprised to learn that at least one colleague considers him to be a misogynist.

Author Photo
Anne Penketh


I’m a Lancashire lass but for most of my career, I’ve been a foreign correspondent. I’ve reported from all over the world on some of the most cataclysmic events of our time, including the Egyptian revolution and the collapse of the Berlin wall.

These days I’m based in Paris and concentrating on fiction writing. The first in a series of crime novels featuring Detective Inspector Sam Clayton, Murder On The Marsh, is out now. My first novel, Food Fight, was published in 2015.

I’ve reported from Paris mainly for The Independent and The Guardian, but I also contribute to France24 television and Monocle radio. (I was The Independent’s Diplomatic Editor, while based in London). As a freelancer, I’ve written for The New Zealand Herald and The National (Abu Dhabi), as well as the LA Times, the New York Times, the Radio Times, the Oldie, Monocle magazine, Quartz, and Spark News.

Between 2009 and 2012, I headed the Washington office of the British American Security Information Council (BASIC), a trans-Atlantic NGO focused on nuclear disarmament, during which time I was also a blogger and columnist for The Hill commenting on foreign affairs.

During my ten-year stint on The Independent I was one of the few journalists to report from Iran, North Korea and Saudi Arabia.

Earlier, I was a staff foreign correspondent with the French news agency, AFP, which posted me to Moscow during the incredible Gorbachev years. I also reported for AFP from France, and New York where I covered the United Nations.

I started my journalistic career in Canada, arriving with two suitcases to seek my fortune in Montreal, from where I reported for British newspapers before getting a job on the Montreal Gazette.

Before that, I was a postgraduate student at University College London whose French department nurtured my lifelong love of French literature. As a result, my own books include a dash of French spice.

Authors links:
Website: https://annepenketh.com/
Twitter: @annepenketh
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7190329.Anne_Penketh




#BlogTour #Review #HouseOfSpines by @michaeljmalone1 @OrendaBooks #NewRelease

*I received an arc via the publisher in return for an honest review*

House of Spines front
House Of Spines by Michael J Malone

Ran McGhie’s world has been turned upside down. A young, lonely and frustrated writer, and suffering from mental-health problems, he discovers that his long-dead mother was related to one of Glasgow’s oldest merchant families. Not only that, but Ran has inherited Newton Hall, a vast mansion that belonged to his great-uncle, who appears to have been watching from afar as his estranged great-nephew has grown up. Entering his new-found home, he finds that Great-Uncle Fitzpatrick has turned it into a temple to the written word – the perfect place for poet Ran. But everything is not as it seems. As he explores the Hall’s endless corridors, Ran’s grasp on reality appears to be loosening. And then he comes across an ancient lift; and in that lift a mirror. And in the mirror … the reflection of a woman … A terrifying psychological thriller with more than a hint of the Gothic, House of Spines is a love letter to the power of books, and an exploration of how lust and betrayal can be deadly…

My review:

This novel is such an unusual mix of gothic horror, scheming relations and the fragility of mental health. It is so cleverly put together and reads right up to the very last page. Some of the quotes, I have added to my review, are some of the finest writing.
This author writes with sheer class.

The novel opens with a prologue which gives a little insight into the protagonist’s childhood. It is one, of the up most complexity and it’s revealed further in the story, as the plot develops. Ranald ‘Ran’ McGhie is contacted by a Mr Quin, a prominent lawyer, whom works within the area of wills/inheritance. Ran is set to discover some secrets about his family ancestry, that he has never been told before. Which disturbs has fragile mental health. Ran is also informed he has inherited Newton Hall, a vast mansion. Ran is completely taken aback by this discovery and remains shaken as he walks through the doors of the property.
But what other secrets wait for Ran?
What else will he uncover about those around him?
Is Newton House, what it appears to be……

Ran as a protagonist, is essentially very difficult to gauge. He is young, lonely and suffers from mental health problems. He has issues with taking his medication. Therefore, what he claims he ‘sees’ cannot be trusted. I think it was a great portrayal of someone battling their personal demons and their mental health problems at the same time. I felt that Ran made rational choices and showed a depth of knowledge of his own thought process.
It was intriguing to read, how Ran would respond to the problems that he faced in the novel.

Ran is made aware of the financial implications of the inheritance. The lawyer advises him, that a local couple live at the residence in a cottage. Mr & Mrs Hackett and they will act as housekeeper and gardener, for the large property. He is informed that his mother by birth a Fitzpatrick, ran off from the wealthy family, to marry an artist. Knowing that he is related to the Fitzpatrick’s, causes Ran to question who they are and who was his Uncle Alexander, who left him this property.

“My advice enjoy the house. Forget your new relatives. Mr Fitzpatrick didn’t have a good word to say about any of them” Mr Quinn    

Ran arrives at the property and meets with Mrs Hackett. She offers him only a mere few clues of her relationship to the Fitzspatrick’s. She informs him the house as a swimming pool and a library. Both of which please, the inner writer within Ran. The house is in a remote location and the novel has a real eerie feeling within the writing.
It is expertly done!

“If you’re anything like your uncle this is the room you’ll want to spend most of your time in. The library” Mrs Hackett

Ran decides to walks into the local village of Bearsden. But for socially awkward Ran, he is aware this is quite an uncomfortable experience. Never the less, he pushes himself on, one step at a time. At a small coffee shop, he meets Liz and things develop rapidly between the pair. When he takes Liz back to the house, she is later frightened by a voice proclaiming “get out, he’s mine”.
What is happening at Newton Hall? Who are the voices from the walls?

Through the novel we learn of Ran’s diagnosis of bi-polar. We learn that he is prone to fear, anxiety sleepwalking and is disturbed by memories of the past. So when ran starts seeing the image of a loving woman in the mirror. You have to ask yourself is this a haunting? Or is Ran off his meds again? We meet Martie, Ran’s ex-wife, whom reveals her own secrets surrounding Ran’s past and his illness. We also meet Donna, a character who has been like a mother to Ran. Donna also claims to have a form of psychic gift and she warns Ran, there is a presence of a woman and she means you harm……………

“…In that padded room between denial and acceptance…”

Ran’s Behaviour becomes more and more erratic and the Hackett’s bear witness. Then Mr Quinn notifies Ran there are two living relatives, who wish to meet him. Into his life walks Marcus and Rebecca. They speak of family scandals and secrets, almost as if they seek to draw Ran into the families past. Between this and the continued hauntings, Ran does start to investigate.
Only, what he will expose, will impact all the individuals in the novel…..

“He had finally slipped beyond the veil and into the madness”

“A spine can only bend so much before it snaps”

This novel has it all mysterious characters, hazy images of ghosts, greed, lust, love, loss and heartache. This is not just a novel about mental health or a dysfunctional family. Ever tiny little twist or piece of new information, is cleverly linked to Ran. I would love to see this novel developed into a two-part TV series or a film. As it would certainly keep the viewer guessing. But then as a novel, it has some of most beautiful descriptions. I shall leave this review, with my absolute favourite, even if it is a little dark. 4.5*

“Her eyes wide with the grief of a hundred bereaved mothers”

Michael Malone Photo
Michael J Malone
Author bio:
Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country, just a stone’s throw from the great man’s cottage in Ayr. Well, a stone thrown by a catapult. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. His career as a poet has also included a (very) brief stint as the Poet-In- Residence for an adult gift shop. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge: Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call (a non-fiction work about successful modern-day Scots); A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage and The Bad Samaritan. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number one bestseller. Michael is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website http://www.crimesquad.com. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller.
Author links:
Website: http://www.mjm-ink.com/
Twitter: @michaeljmalone
Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6203125.Michael_J_Malone
Via publisher: http://orendabooks.co.uk/michael-j-malone/