Sunday, 16 May 2021

Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder blog tour

They were a band of mysterious private detectives who lived beneath the streets of London in a labyrinth of twisted tunnels and ancient hallways, the entrance to which no one had ever found...

London, 1958:

Elaborately disguised and hidden deep beneath the city's streets lies the world of Miss Brickett's, a secret detective agency. From traversing deceptive escape rooms full of baited traps and hidden dangers, to engineering almost magical mechanical gadgets, apprentice detectives at Miss Brickett's undergo rigorous training to equip them with the skills and knowledge they will need to solve the mysteries that confound London's police force.

But nothing can prepare 23-year-old apprentice Marion Lane for what happens after the arrest of her friend and mentor, Frank, on suspicion of murder: he tasks Marion with clearing his name and saving his life. Her investigation will place Marion and her friends in great peril as they venture into the forbidden maze of uncharted tunnels that surround Miss Brickett's. Being discovered out of bounds means immediate dismissal, but that is the least of Marion's problems when she discovered that the tunnels contain more than just secrets...

I knew I'd love this book from the first moment I read about it. The cover, title and blurb all hint at a compelling mystery, and Marion Lane delivers.

T.A. Willberg has created a richly imagined world that immediately grounded me in the time period and fantasy setting, as well as gradually revealing details and building intrigue. There were so many clever touches and inventions!

I also loved how the characters were developed, each with interesting backstories and secrets to uncover. Marion is a brilliantly believable lead, and I'll look forward to following her through the series.

Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder is the perfect read for fans of brilliantly plotted, beautifully written historical fantasy and has a gripping mystery at its heart.

Thank you to Orion for including me on the blog tour and for the gifted copy!

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

The Nightsilver Promise review

In a re-imagined world, the Empire of Albion is ruled by science. Everyone’s destiny is pre-determined by a track of stars on their wrist, and 13-year-old Paisley Fitzwilliam discovers that her fate is to die before her fourteenth year. But when her mother goes missing and is presumed dead; there is nobody left to protect her Dragon Touched brother Dax. So begins a breathtaking adventure through London's Floating Boroughs, a vault guarded by Dragon Walkers, and the dark sewers of lower London.

To save her brother, Paisley must unlock an ancient secret that will not only defy her stars, but will change the course of history forever . . .

I definitely judged this proof by its exceptionally beautiful cover, and I loved the contents just as much. The Nightsilver Promise is gorgeously written and original, with evocative worldbuilding and well-drawn characters.

I don't always find it easy to keep the details of fantasy worlds straight in my mind, but Annaliese Avery has created a stunning backdrop to the story that immediately places you in the world but doesn't overwhelm the plot. 

The premise of this book is unnerving and leaves you empathising for Paisley right from the start. The question of whether she'll survive hangs over the book and gives the events a real sense of urgency. I found the whole plot gripping, from the adventurous journey through a reimagined London to the quiet moments of family and character development. The story kept me invested and I didn't manage to predict where it was going!

I also found the characters didn't always develop how I expected, and I loved the relationship between Paisley and her brother, Dax.

I haven't read any middle-grade fantasy for a long time, but I predict this one will become a classic. I highly recommend it for anyone in need of a good adventure. Aren't we all at the moment?

Thank you to Scholastic for the gifted copy!

Sunday, 18 April 2021

The Last Girl blog tour review

Scream meets Gossip Girl with a dash of One of Us is Lying!

When it comes to horror movies, the rules are clear:
– Avoid abandoned buildings, warehouses, and cabins at all times.
– Stay together: don’t split up, not even just to “check something out…
– If there’s a murderer on the loose, do NOT make out with anyone…

New girl Rachel Chavez turns to horror movies for comfort, preferring them to the bored rich kids of her fancy New York High School. But then Rachel is recruited by the Mary Shelley Club, a mysterious student club that sets up terrifying Fear Tests; elaborate pranks inspired by urban legends and horror movies.

But when a sinister masked figure appears, Rachel realises that her past has caught up with her. It’s time for the ultimate prank to play out…

The Last Girl (called The Mary Shelley Club in the US) is one of those books that I went into with really high expectations, and yet it managed to exceed all of them. It's a tightly plotted, cinematic read that just feels so fun, dark and fresh at the same time.

I loved how this book explores horror tropes! My finished copy came with a tropes bingo sheet, but I'd already taken great pleasure in spotting them on my first read. Goldy Moldavsky leans into them at times and subverts them in other places, so it's really fun trying to work out how things will end.

I also liked the characters and the relationships between them. It can be really hard to get this right in horror and thrillers, but this book strikes the balance really well. The characters are complex and well developed, and the relationships between them feel genuine. There's also plenty of suspense and scares.

The Last Girl is one of my favourite reads of 2021, and is the perfect book for horror movie fans.

I'm delighted to be doing an event with Goldy on Thursday 22nd April 6pm to talk about The Last Girl and Mina and the Undead. It's free to register and you can do so here if you're interested.

Thank you to Electric Monkey and Farshore for the gifted proofs and finished copy of the book. I really appreciate being including on the blog tour! Check out the banner to follow the other stops on the tour.

Friday, 26 March 2021

The Embalmer blog tour


When a freshly-mummified body is discovered at the Brighton Museum of Natural History, Detective Francis Sullivan is at a loss to identify the desiccated woman. But as Egyptian burial jars of body parts with cryptic messages attached start appearing, he realises he has a serial killer on his hands. Revenge, obsession and an ancient religion form a potent mix, unleashing a wave of terror throughout the city. Caught in a race against time while battling his own demons, Francis must fight to uncover the true identity of the Embalmer before it's too late...

Content warning: rape and graphic violence/murder

I haven't read any adult crime novels in such a long time, and The Embalmer has rekindled my interest. It's a tense, dark and inventive read with believable characters. I didn't realise it's the third in a series, and it's written so well that I easily picked up the story. I'm going to go back and read the others, but given the choice I'd read them in the right order.

I really liked how this book delves into the killer's viewpoint as well as following several main characters. It really enriches the narrative and is done in a way that's easy to follow instead of being confusing.

The premise of this is so fresh. I love ancient Egyptian history, so I found it really interesting how this is worked into the mystery.

The pace of this book is great! There are quieter moments between characters interspersed with mounting tension, and the narrative style of shifting narrators enhanced this. 

The Embalmer is a thrilling read, and I'm excited about picking up the other books in the series! 

Saturday, 30 January 2021

We Played with Fire blog tour

Maggie has witnessed impossible things. But no one believes her, and now her family has taken her away to spend the winter upstate in a remote, freezing farmhouse.

Bored and angry, Maggie and her younger sister Kate start to play tricks: rapping on the floorboards above their parents’ bedroom, cracking their toes under the table, and telling tales about noises in the night. Then the house starts to make sounds of its own. Neither Maggie nor Kate can explain it, but it seems as though someone – or something – is trying to speak to them . . .

Inspired by the incredible true tale of the Fox Sisters, the girls who made their fortune in nineteenth-century America by speaking to ghosts.

I loved the premise of We Played with Fire, and it delivered on everything I wanted! 

This book has such a fantastically creepy atmosphere. I've wanted to learn more about the mysterious Fox sisters for a while and this book really captured their story. I also enjoyed reading the author note at the end that explained how the real events fitted in with the narrative.

The characters in We Played with Fire are so interesting! They've all got different layers and qualities, both likeable and not so favourable ones. I really liked how the book used them to explore gender inequality and the importance of standing up for your beliefs. I wasn't expecting that dimension to the book, and it was really satisfying!

Thank you to Andersen Press for the Netgalley approval and for including me on the blog tour. You can follow the other stops on the blog tour using this banner. Happy reading!


Monday, 11 January 2021

The Girl Who review

Content warning: grief, trauma, witnessing violence

The girl who... survived
The girl who... inspires
The girl who... has something to hide

People can't bring themselves to say what happened to her. They just describe her as 'the girl who... you know...'. But nobody really knows, no one sees the real Leah.

Leah is the perfect survivor. She was seven years old when she saw her mother and sister killed by a troubled gang member. Her case hit the headlines and her bravery made her a national sweetheart: strong, courageous and forgiving.

But Leah is hiding a secret about their deaths. And now, ten years later, all she can think of is revenge.

When Leah's dad meets a new partner, stepsister Ellie moves in. Sensing Leah isn't quite the sweet girl she pretends to be, Ellie discovers that Leah has a plan, one she has been putting together ever since that fateful day. Now that the killer - and the only one who knows the truth - is being released from prison, time is running out for Ellie to discover how far Leah will go to silence her anger . . .

The Girl Who is one of those books that I spent all day thinking about until I got chance to read it again. It's a dark, engrossing story about a new family, a girl who has survived a terrible ordeal and how that event will shape her actions.

I read this book fast because I was desperate to find out what Leah was planning and whether she would go through with it. The slow reveal of information definitely kept my interest.

I also thought the multiple narratives were very effective. Each felt distinct and added valuable insights to the overall plot. The main characters in this book all have layers that I enjoyed uncovering!

This is a pacy, thrilling debut that comes out on 14th January, and I'd highly recommend it to thriller fans!


Friday, 1 January 2021

First Day of My Life blog tour

There are three sides to every story... It's GCSE results day. Frankie's best friend, Jojo, is missing. A baby has been stolen. And more than one person has been lying. Frankie's determined to find out the truth and her ex-boyfriend Ram is the only person who can help her. But they're both in for a shock... EVERYTHING is about to change.

Lisa Williamson is one of my go-to authors for contemporary YA. Her books are full of fierce friendships, believable characters and humour. 

I have a terrible memory for books I've read, but Lisa William's characters always stand out in my memory. They feel fully fleshed out, the dialogue is sharp and it quickly feels like you know them and their stories. I really enjoyed the friendship between Frankie and Jojo in this book. It's so authentic, with all of the good and bad that comes with it.

The structure of First Day of My Life is great! Using the perspectives of the three main characters worked really well, and I loved how the story unravelled slowly as they each got to say their piece.

I like books that have something in it that I can relate to. This book brought up so many emotions for me, and I thought the experiences in it were explored in an empathetic and balanced way. Even though I didn't agree with all of the characters' actions, I could understand them. 

This is a brilliantly written, uplifting book with memorable characters. I'd recommend it to all fans of YA contemporaries, and you should check out Lisa William's other books too.