Archive for February, 2018

The London Book Fair launches inaugural UK Book Blog Awards


The hunt to find the most influential book bloggers, bookstagrammers and booktubers is on


London, 14 February 2017: The London Book Fair (LBF) is delighted to announce the launch of the first ever UK Book Blog Awards @ LBF – a new initiative designed to celebrate social media influencers and their important contribution to the book industry.  


A new feature for LBF 2018, this will be the first time this community has been officially recognised and rewarded by the British publishing industry.


Bloggers, social media influencers, members of the publishing industry, and the general public are invited to nominate the best book blogs, bookstagrammers and booktubers across three categories:

·         Book Blogger of the Year

·         Bookstagrammer of the Year

·         BookTuber of the Year


Once the shortlist has been revealed, a panel of judges will select one winner in each category, who will be honoured at a special awards ceremony at The London Book Fair. In addition, the Fair will introduce new seminars and networking events aimed at bringing the social media influencer community closer to the publishing world.


Jacks Thomas, Director at The London Book Fair commented:Book bloggers are an increasingly important part of the book world. Their passion for authors, genres and books is integral in reaching new audiences. We’re really excited to be launching the inaugural UK Book Blog Awards @ LBF and recognising the crucial role social influencers play in the promotion of books.”


The awards are open to any blogger, YouTuber or Instagrammer that features books published in the UK and/or UK authors. To put forward a nomination, or to nominate your own blog/Instagram account/YouTube channel visit: www.londonbookfair.co.uk/UKBookBlogAwards


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Another Friday and another wonderful book to share with you from the mind of the hugely talented John K. Fulton.  Last year I was incredibly fortunate to read a copy of John’s second novel The Beast on The Broch  and absolutely fell in love with the way he writes, bringing the stories alive through the eyes of a younger perspective and giving me a glimpse of a world I’d never experienced.  Today I am honoured to be able to share a review with you of The Wreck of The Argyll which is set in 1915 Dundee and is the tale of plucky young Nancy Caird and Jamie Balfour.



** My thanks to Anne at Cranachan Books for my copy of this wonderful book **




Dundee, 1915.

When twelve-year-old Nancy suspects one of her teachers is a German spy, she ropes in the reluctant Jamie Balfour to help her uncover the scheme.

Midshipman Harry Melville is aboard HMS Argyll in the stormy North Sea, unaware of both hidden rocks and German plots that threaten the ship. Nancy and Jamie discover HMS Argyll is in deadly danger and they are drawn into a web of espionage, secrets, and betrayal, where no-one is as they seem and no-one can be trusted.

My Thoughts & Review:

The Wreck of The Argyll is a wonderful tale that explores the idea of WWI and spies through the eyes of 12-year-old Nancy Caird and her unwilling companion Jamie Balfour.  But also gives readers a glimpse into the life of a young Naval crewman on his first mission at sea in what proves to be a drama packed journey.

Nancy is the perfect mix of inquisitive, brave and determined, and so it’s only natural for our young protagonist to feel she’s wasting her time attending school when there’s a war on and her time could be better spent contributing to the war effort.  She fancies herself as a detective and is soon on the case of an enemy agent, following one of her teachers down the darkened streets of Dundee.  She’s sure that he must be a spy, and is out to prove it when she stumbles across a situation that even her quick thinking can’t save her from.  Her rescue by Jamie Balfour marks the beginning of a new friendship, and a new partner in the hunt for an enemy spy.

Meanwhile, aboard the HMS Argyll a young Midshipman is finding his feet on his first ship at sea, a rather stormy sea.  The conditions for sailing are far from perfect and it soon transpires that this ship must get to it’s destination and avoid the enemy at all costs.  Whilst Midshipman Harry Melville may come across as mature and responsible, it’s hard to remember that he is only a young lad, not that much older than Nancy Caird and Jamie Balfour.

The thread of the plot around the ship and crew is fascinating and holds so much intrigue.  The tension is perfectly paced with some superb characters that readers will eagerly race through to find out what will happen next.  But equally, the storyline of Nancy, Jamie and the spy is absolutely wonderful.  The dialogue and characters are spot on and work so fantastically.  The snippets of historical information are cleverly woven into the plot and make this hugely enjoyable, I loved the attitudes and sense of humour of the returning soldiers.

Casting a young person as the driver for the story allows readers a rare glimpse into a mindset that questions things at face value.  The way that Nancy sees something is wrong and feels that she must do something about it is commendable.  Perhaps it’s because of her young age that she’s not world-weary yet, or perhaps it’s her nature, but either way it makes for a wonderfully rich and authentic tale that draws readers in and makes them feel flutters of excitement, momentary dread and carried them off on a whirlwind adventure.

A fascinating and exciting tale that I would highly recommend for all readers with some very important messages sprinkled throughout the text, namely that working together will help you overcome obstacles.

So highly recommended!!

You can buy a copy of The Wreck of The Argyll via:

Cranachan Publishing (publisher)
Amazon UK


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** My thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy of this book **



The deadliest kind of assassin is one who is already dying…

As the radiation poisoning that Nadia Laksheva was exposed to in Chernobyl takes hold of her body, she knows she has mere weeks to live. But Salamander, the terrorist who murdered her father and sister has a deadly new plan to ‘make the sky bleed’. Nadia is determined to stop him again, even if it is the last thing she ever does.

The only clue she has are the coordinates 88˚ North, a ridge in the Arctic right above one of the largest oil fields in the world, three thousand metres below the ice. If Salamander takes hold of the oil field, he could change the climate of the whole planet for generations to come…

But can Nadia stop him before her own time runs out?

The gripping third and final novel in J.F. Kirwan’s brilliant spy thriller series. Perfect for fans of Charles Cumming, Mark Dawson and Adam Brookes.


My Thoughts & Review:

I think it’s fair to say that this has been a series that I’ve much enjoyed and when I realised that this was the final part of the series I was saddened.  How could the author end this series with one of my favourite characters?!   How would the plot move on from where it left off in book two and more importantly, how would this end?!

So, picking up from the previous book, we see Nadia Laksheva still on the tail of notorious terrorist Salamander and with nothing to lose she’s letting nothing stop her finding him, not even the radiation sickness.
Nadia is a character that many readers have taken a huge liking to, she’s a kick ass, takes no-nonsense lass that knows her way around guns and can fight her way out of most situations.  She’s the perfect mixture of cool, detached and calculating, but also impulsive, not averse to taking risks.  The way that Kirwan scripts his plot means that the tension winds tighter and tighter to the point you almost want to race through the book to find out what will happen next and what risks will be taken.

The research into this book feels quite extensive, even down to the detailed information presented in small throw away comments in dialogue are impressive.  Other details of things such as traditions of the Triad, the information about nuclear weapons etc are fantastic and make a reader feel like they are being presented with something so well thought out and put together.  It really adds an authenticity and feeling of completeness to the plot.

I do love the descriptiveness of the writing throughout this series, the settings are so vivid in my head whilst I read, it’s almost like watching a movie play out in my head.  And I will miss diving with Nadia and Jake, experiencing the underwater world through their dives has been one of the highlights of these books.

If you’ve not read either of the previous books I would recommend heading back to the beginning of the series to fully appreciate the development of the characters and their situations.   Highly recommended series that I am genuinely sad to see end.

You can buy a copy of 88° North via:

Amazon UK

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The Betrayal Cover LARGE EBOOK (1)


** My thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **



Treachery and theft lead to death – and love

1940. Teresa Bichard and her baby are sent by her beloved husband, Leo, to England as the Germans draw closer to Guernsey. Days later they invade…

1942. Leo, of Jewish descent, is betrayed to the Germans and is sent to a concentration camp, never to return.

1945. Teresa returns to find Leo did not survive and the family’s valuable art collection, including a Renoir, is missing. Heartbroken, she returns to England.

2011. Nigel and his twin Fiona, buy a long-established antique shop in Guernsey and during a refit, find a hidden stash of paintings, including what appears to be a Renoir. Days later, Fiona finds Nigel dead, an apparent suicide. Refusing to accept the verdict, a distraught Fiona employs a detective to help her discover the truth…

Searching for the rightful owner of the painting brings Fiona close to someone who opens a chink in her broken heart. Can she answer some crucial questions before laying her brother’s ghost to rest?

Who betrayed Leo?

Who knew about the stolen Renoir?

And are they prepared to kill – again?

My Thoughts & Review:

The mystery of this book appealed to me, what was the connection between the events in the 1940s and 2011?  Initially when I heard about this book I panicked, it was part of the way through the series The Guernsey Novels but I needn’t have worried as this is a standalone novel.

With a storyline that moves back and forth between the two time settings, readers learn about Leo and his wife Teresa on Guernsey, how they are preparing for invasion by the Nazis and their parting is of necessity.  Once Leo has got his wife and child to safety he awaits his fate along with the remaining islanders.
In 2011 Fiona stumbles upon the body of her twin brother Nigel in their antique shop, an apparent suicide that makes no sense to Fiona or any of their friends.  She sets out to prove to the police that they are wrong, not realising the danger she might be putting herself in.

I enjoyed the way that the stories of Leo and Fiona ran alongside each other, each of their lives filled with moments of heightened emotions, whether trauma and fear, happiness and love.  I perhaps felt a little more connected to the tale of Leo and the Nazi occupation due to having an interest in stories set in this time.  Leo’s life was undoubtedly lonely once he got his wife and child to safety, reading the short narrative where he mentions his love for them both was heart warming and when he recounts the memory of meeting his wife for the first time, it gives readers a wonderful insight into this character.
It did feel that Fiona’s story took up more of the narrative and it needed to, it was the driving force of the plot.  But I felt less connected to it, less invested.  There were aspects of the plot that I found didn’t work for me, but they worked to convey the messages that the author wanted to share.

The descriptions of the settings are so clear and vivid, Guernsey sounds like such a wonderful place and so appealing.  The beaches sound beautiful and the way that the scenery comes to life through the writing makes this a delight to read.  I enjoyed the way that this history of the island was told through the characters and indeed finding out more about the way that the occupation impacted on the lives of the islanders was very interesting.

A well written mystery with touches of romance and danger.

You can buy a copy of The Betrayal via Amazon UK


And for one lucky person, there is a giveaway running on this blog tour with the great prize of a signed copy of The Betrayal (which is open internationally!) and all you need to do is click on the rafflecopter link to be in with a chance.

** Giveaway**


The Betrayal Full Banner

About the Author:

Anne Allen lives in Devon, by her beloved sea. She has three children, and her daughter and two grandchildren live nearby.  Her restless spirit has meant a number of moves which included Spain for a couple of years. The longest stay was in Guernsey for nearly fourteen years after falling in love with the island and the people. She contrived to leave one son behind to ensure a valid reason for frequent returns.

By profession, Anne was a psychotherapist, but long had the itch to write. Now a full-time writer, she has written The Guernsey Novels, six having been published and the seventh, The Inheritance, is due out in 2018.

Social Media Links –

Website: www.anneallen.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Anne-Allen-Author-176883759173475/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnneAllen21

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** My thanks to Emily at Bonnier Zaffre Books for my copy of this book **



For the Stasi, it’s not just the truth that gets buried . . .

The body of a teenage boy is found weighted down in a lake. Karin Müller, newly appointed Major of the People’s Police, is called to investigate. But her power will only stretch so far, when every move she makes is under the watchful eye of the Stasi.

Then, when the son of Müller’s team member goes missing, it quickly becomes clear that there is a terrifying conspiracy at the heart of this case, one that could fast lead Müller and her young family into real danger.

Can she navigate this complex political web and find the missing boy, before it’s too late?


My Thoughts & Review:

It’s fair to say that I’ve been a fan of cold war thrillers and espionage reads for a long time, cutting my teeth on the likes of Len Deighton and John Le Carré, so when I first heard about this series back in 2015/2016 I jumped straight into reading it and quickly felt like I was in the company of a truly great writer.  Fast forward to 2018 and I am once again catching up with one of my favourite People’s Police comrades, Karin Müller in the third installment of the series.

For fans of the series, this book picks up some months along from the ending of Stasi Wolf, and although time has moved on Karin has adjusted to what life threw at her, it almost feels like we never parted.  Events feel fresh and interesting and the seedy clandestine world of conspiracy seems to leech into her everyday life regardless.
Now promoted to the lofty rank of Major in the People’s Police, Müller is tasked with heading up a new Serious Crimes Department to liaise at the highest levels with other agencies in the Republic, but at what cost?

One of the things I love about Young’s writing is that it feels so authentic, yes there is authorial license applied and this is a work of fiction but the essence of the plot feels real.  Having read many books set in the cold war, you become attuned to certain scenes, a certain level of tension and almost ready to be shocked when someone is identified as an agent (or double agent), but each book of this series gives the reader a feeling of being right there in the moment with Müller and deputy Tilsner.
The vivid descriptions of the settings and locations used in this book are superb, I could almost feel the chill of the air as Müller tried pull her raincoat lapels up to keep the sleet away from her face, I could almost smell the forest that Müller visited, and could see such clear images in my mind whilst I read of the scenes throughout.

The characters in the series continue to intrigue me, whilst we learn more about Müller with each book, we also learn a little more about her deputy.  Werner Tilsner has been a character that has drawn my attention for a while now, something about him keeps me on my toes and indeed it seems to give Müller a moment of pause too, is he a Stasi agent?  Where did he get his fancy watch?  Just what connections does he have?  I’ve not managed to work it out yet but that won’t stop my mind going into overdrive trying to puzzle it out!
Either way, they make a great team and work really well together.  There is a sense of loyalty there between them that Müller really needs when she’s dealing with the murky waters of the Stasi.

The glossary at the back of the book adds useful translations of the authentic German words used (I had great fun testing my knowledge of German with these and pleased to admit that I can still remember German curse words, all that time at school wasn’t wasted after all), and the author’s note adds an extra layer to the plot, explaining where artistic licence may have been employed or explaining details from the plot.

Absolutely masterful plotting, packed with tension and so wonderfully gripping, this is a magnificent book and I cannot wait to see what David Young has planned for book 4!

Highly recommended!!

You can buy a copy of A Darker State via:

Amazon UK
Book Depository

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** My thanks to Anne Cater & Karen Sullivan for my copy of this novel and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **



Crime reporter Henning Juul thought his life was over when his young son was murdered. But that was only the beginning…

Determined to find his son’s killer, Henning doggedly follows an increasingly dangerous trail, where dark hands from the past emerge to threaten everything. His ex-wife Nora is pregnant with another man’s child, his sister Trine is implicated in the fire that killed his son and, with everyone he thought he could trust seemingly hiding something, Henning has nothing to lose … except his own life.

Packed with tension and unexpected twists, Killed is the long-awaited finale of one of the darkest, most chilling and emotive series you may ever read. Someone will be killed. But who?

My Thoughts & Review:

The Henning Juul series was one that I discovered late, frankly too late for it to be acceptable.  I started on book four of the series and absolutely loved everything about the book so went back and bought the previous books to work through at my leisure.  Now I have the final book of the series in my hands, and I’m not ready to say goodbye to this character….

For those not familiar with the writing style of Thomas Enger, allow me to foolishly try to sum it up, gripping, gritty, dark, emotive and spectacular.  There are so many more ways to describe it but I don’t think I can find the perfect words to convey how brilliant it is.

Henning Juul is a man on a mission, he wants to find out who was behind the fire that killed his son and will stop at nothing to find out, even if it means placing his life in the utmost danger.  His role as a crime reporter grants him access to some of the shadiest characters and their secrets, but that’s only if they stay alive long enough to share those secrets with Henning.    I am loathe to say much about the plot of this novel, there are so many clever aspects to it, and Enger has surpassed himself with this book.  Whilst clues are dangled tantalisingly close to you as a reader, you cannot quite see them through the mists and you almost don’t want to guess ahead.  You want to be kept in the dark, you want to see what’s lurking in the shadows of Enger’s mind and see where he plans to take his characters and join them on the thrilling ride.

The prologue at the beginning of the book really pulls a reader in and has them almost wanting to launch the book across the room (please don’t, you will either break your electronic device or your book, and scare any animals around you), it’s powerful stuff and so fantastically written that it makes you hold your breath in anticipation/worry.

I absolutely loved the development of characters in this, and even when I was supposed to dislike a character because of their actions, I couldn’t help but feel some shred of sympathy towards them, kudos to you Mr Enger!  The link between Henning Juul and his ex wife Nora was always going to be a delicate one, they loved one another once, they had a child together, and they suffered his death.  But the way that these two are written is fantastic, their bond is probably stronger after what has happened and instead of ripping them apart, it has almost made them better friends and support for each other.
The rawness of emotion that is woven throughout the plot is what makes this book stand out for me, lies and secrets bring so many things with them, but the emotions attached to them are what makes them more potent and here Enger stamps his mark on Nordic Noir with writing that leeches from the pages, gets under the skin of readers and leaves them feeling so tied to the characters and the story.

An utterly enthralling offering from one of my favourite crime fiction writers, and I would recommend that you do check out the soundcloud link at the back of the book to listen to the beautiful piece of music composed by Thomas Enger, it’s breathtaking!

Alas, now I have to say goodbye to Henning Juul…….*sobs*

You can buy a copy of Killed via:

Book Depository
Amazon UK

About the Author:

Thomas Enger (b. 1973) is a former journalist. He made his debut with the crime novel Burned (Skinndod) in 2009, which became an international sensation before publication. Burned is the first in a series of 5 books about the journalist Henning Juul, which delves into the depths of Oslo’s underbelly, skewering the corridors of dirty politics and nailing the fast-moving world of 24-hour news. Rights to the series have been sold to 26 countries to date. In 2013 Enger published his first book for young adults, a dark fantasy thriller called The Evil Legacy, for which he won the U-prize (best book Young Adult). Enger also composes music, and he lives in Oslo.

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour, there are some brilliant reviews and guest posts to read – why not check back on the previous days to catch up on what you might have missed too?  Don’t forget to check out the blog for my co-host Liz Loves Books today!


Killed Blog Tour Poster


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** My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book **



The number of women my brother Matthew killed, so far as I can reckon it, is one hundred and six…’

It has been waiting in the dark, Matthew’s history – our history. But now I must turn over the stone: that you might see it, wriggling to escape…

When Alice Hopkins’ husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.

But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which he is gathering women’s names.

To what lengths will Matthew’s obsession drive him?
And what choice will Alice make, when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan?

My Thoughts & Review:

I have to admit that I have had this book on my “to read pile” for some time, almost a year in fact, and part of my taking a break in January from blogging was to allow me to pick up the books that ended up being shunted down the pile as more blog tour reads arrived.  This was one such book that kept slipping down the list and never seemed to get to the top but thankfully one weekend I decided to grab it and see where it would take me.

I love historical fiction, certain eras and settings will just call out to me to read them and this book was one that I was looking so forward to reading.  Based loosely on the life of Matthew Hopkins, a witch hunter in the mid 1600s in England, the reader is presented with a perceptive and thought out account of the barbaric and heinous crimes committed against women under the guise of ridding the country of witches.

Alice Hopkins is the voice of the narrator in this book, and she begins her story from what appears to be confinement, leaving the reader to wonder the reasons for her incarceration and just how she met this fate.  As Alice slowly recounts her tale, we learn that she returned home to Essex following the death of her husband in London.  Newly widowed, she also learns of the death of her mother, and makes the arduous journey to return to the only family she has left in England, her younger brother Matthew.
Painting a rather vivid portrait of Matthew, Alice recounts a close childhood where they were co-conspirators almost.  However, with the passing of time and her absence from the family home, Matthew has become Master of the house and much changed.  Alice almost fears her brother, aware that she is awaiting his return from business with great anxiety.  He offers her no comfort, and indeed the starkness of the Thorn compliments perfectly the lacking of compassion that Matthew shows to his sister.

The horrors of this story occur when Alice becomes fully aware of the witch hunts, Alice almost not wanting to believe that her brother could be involved with this business until it is too late.  Matthew Hopkins was granted permission in law to target women in the country and surroundings, carrying out heinous and torturous acts as a means of detecting witchcraft or verifying that the accused women were in league with the Devil.  The author has done a tremendous job of recreating the panic and ill ease of the period that faced women who stood out for one reason or another.  The frightening realism of the acts has been documented throughout history and having studied this during the course of my time at university I honestly do feel that Beth Underdown does a superb job in her writing.  This however does not make it any easier to read and any less harrowing.

The Witchfinder’s Sister is a tremendous book, and one that I think that fans of historical fiction will enjoy.  There is so much more to this book than the plot, there vivid descriptions transport readers to 1600s England, feeling the mud underfoot, smelling the musty air of a closed up house, seeing fear ingrained by the idea that one rumour could be all it takes to cast suspicion and endanger a life….a truly powerful and magnificent read!

You can buy a copy of The Witchfinder’s Sister via:

Amazon UK
Book Depository

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