Category Archives: Blog Tour

Blog Tour: The Retreat by Mark Edwards

the retreat

Having read and enjoyed one of Mark Edwards’ previous novels (The Magpies) I was delighted to be invited to join the blog tour for his latest novel, The Retreat.

A missing child.  A desperate mother.  And a house full of secrets.

Two years ago, Julia lost her family in a tragic accident.  Her husband drowned trying to save their daughter, Lily, in the river near their rural home.  But the little girl’s body was never found—and Julia believes Lily is somehow still alive.

Alone and broke, Julia opens her house as a writers’ retreat.  One of the first guests is Lucas, a horror novelist, who becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Lily.  But within days of his arrival, the peace of the retreat is shattered by a series of eerie events.

When Lucas’s investigation leads him and Julia into the woods, they discover a dark secret—a secret that someone will do anything to protect…

What really happened that day by the river?  Why was Lily never found?  And who, or what, is haunting the retreat?

I went into The Retreat expecting a thriller, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that this had darker undertones and an almost horror story vibe, so much so that I wasn’t entirely sure whether the outcome would be supernatural or whether there would be a rational explanation for everything.  I won’t spoil it for you, but I thought that this aspect of the novel worked really well, and it added a little something extra to the missing child story, as I found The Retreat to be an extremely creepy novel, and I loved the atmosphere throughout.

The plot was fascinating, and I desperately wanted to know what happened to Lily on that day by the river.  The police have all but given up their investigation, convinced that the most obvious answer is the right one and that she drowned, her body swept away by the fast-flowing current.  The novel opens with that day by the river before moving forward two years to Lucas’s arrival at the writer’s retreat, and so the reader knows a little more than the characters in the novel, but not much.  This was a story that kept me guessing to the very end, and I didn’t even come close to putting together a halfway decent guess as to what had happened.

The Retreat is predominantly narrated by Lucas, with a small number of chapters told from Lily’s perspective in the run up to that fateful day at the river.  I thought that this structure worked brilliantly, and whilst Lucas’s investigation continues to result in more questions than it answers, the reader gets a little more insight from the Lily chapters, although the who / what / when / where / how remains elusive until the very end.  I have to admit that I didn’t really like Lucas all that much, but this didn’t stop me enjoying the novel at all – the story was plenty to keep me engaged.  And I REALLY wanted to know what happened to Lily.

The Retreat is a brilliant thriller with a hint of the supernatural thrown in and is a novel that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.  Just don’t read it in the dark.

The Retreat was published on 10 May by Thomas & Mercer and is available in digital and paperback formats. Many thanks to Gabriella Drinkald for the opportunity to read and review this title ahead of its publication.

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Make sure you check out the other stops on the tour:

The Retreat by Mark Edwards Blog Tour banner final


Blog Tour: Tubing by K. A. McKeagney


I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Tubing today – a debut novel that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Polly, 28, lives in London with her ‘perfect-on-paper’ boyfriend. She works a dead-end job on a free London paper… life as she knows it is dull.  But her banal existence is turned upside down late one drunken night on her way home, after a chance encounter with a man on a packed tube train.  The chemistry between them is electric and on impulse, they kiss, giving in to their carnal desires.  But it’s over in an instant, and Polly is left shell-shocked as he walks away without even telling her his name.

Now obsessed with this beautiful stranger, Polly begins a frantic online search, and finally discovers more about tubing, an underground phenomenon in which total strangers set up illicit, silent, sexual meetings on busy commuter tube trains.  In the process, she manages to track him down and he slowly lures her into his murky world, setting up encounters with different men via Twitter.

At first, she thinks she can keep it separate from the rest of her life, but things soon spiral out of control.

By chance she spots him on a packed tube train with a young, pretty blonde.  Seething with jealousy, she watches them together.  But something isn’t right, and a horrific turn of events make Polly realise not only how foolish she has been, but how much danger she is in…

Can she get out before it’s too late?

Tubing isn’t my usual kind of read.  I like a thriller, but I don’t tend to read novels with overtly erotic themes, but I’m so glad that I gave this novel a go, as I really enjoyed it, and whilst the “action” on the packed tube trains is a central part of the novel, there’s so much more going on here than sex between strangers.

I think that the idea of tubing is a fascinating one, and I haven’t quite dared look up whether it’s an actual thing.  It seems as though people would get caught, but even as a non-Londoner, I know better than to look at people on the tube where people tend to withdraw into themselves, avoiding eye contact at all costs, and so it’s a plausible idea.  Either way, I’m pretty sure that I’ll be thinking about this novel every time I’m on a packed tube journey for some time to come!

I thought that Polly was a fascinating, if not entirely likeable, character.  At 28, she’s is in a relationship that would sound ideal to many, but it’s one that she’s not entirely satisfied with.  That first illicit encounter on the tube gives her a taste of temptation and excitement that she simply doesn’t get from boyfriend, and it doesn’t take long until she is hooked on tubing, even though some of her encounters are a little uncomfortable.  I think that there’s an element of the grass being greener here, in that tubing gives Polly an experience of being with other men and of having fun which to her seems more interesting than the steady relationship that she is in.

The plot moves along at quite a pace as Polly becomes obsessed with tubing and tracking down that handsome stranger from her first encounter, and it’s shocking at how quickly her life spirals out of control as she loses interest in her job, family and general “real life” concerns.  I wasn’t sure where it was going to go, but I loved how McKeagney brought things to a close, even if I thought that the ending was a little abrupt.  Additionally, I had some unanswered questions at the end, largely around Polly’s mother and her notebooks.  This was a minor point, however, and didn’t mean that I enjoyed the novel any less, and overall, Tubing is a highly enjoyable thriller with a bit of a twist, and if you’re not sure about it, I’d encourage you to give it a go (the novel, that is)!

Tubing is published today – 10 May – by Red Door Books.  Many thanks to Anna and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this title, and to take part in the blog tour.

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Make sure you check out the other stops on the tour:

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Blog Tour: Keeper by Johana Gustawsson


I’m absolutely delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Keeper today.  Keeper is the second novel in Johana Gustawsson’s Roy and Castells series, following on from Block 46 and I think that this second instalment is even better than the first.

Whitechapel, 1888: London is bowed under Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror.

London, 2015: actress Julianne Bell is abducted in a case similar to the terrible Tower Hamlets murders of some ten years earlier, and harking back to the Ripper killings of a century before.

Falkenberg, Sweden, 2015: a woman’s body is found mutilated in a forest, her wounds identical to those of the Tower Hamlets victims. With the man arrested for the Tower Hamlets crimes already locked up, do the new killings mean he has a dangerous accomplice, or is a copy-cat serial killer on the loose?

Profiler Emily Roy and true-crime writer Alexis Castells again find themselves drawn into an intriguing case, with personal links that turn their world upside down.

Following the highly acclaimed Block 46 and guaranteed to disturb and enthral, Keeper is a breathless thriller from the new queen of French Noir.

Like Block 46, Keeper has two timelines running through it.  There’s the modern-day narrative in which Roy et al are investigating the disappearance of Julianne Bell whilst also looking into the gruesome discovery of a woman’s mutilated body in Sweden, as well as the historical story that kicks off in Whitechapel in 1888 featuring Jack the Ripper.  The historical elements in Gustawsson’s novels are, I think, my favourite thing about them.  I think that these historical cases add something extra to her novels, setting them apart from the usual crime procedurals.  Additionally, the historical tales always tie in with the main narrative brilliantly, and give a background to the culprits before the reader even knows who they are.

I felt that this story focused more on Emily Roy than Alexis Castells at first, and it was brilliant to be back in her company.  A behavioural profiler, she is extremely clever but doesn’t always play well with others, often not bothering to worry about social niceties and often comes across as being a little blunt.  I think that she’s a fantastic character – she has the troubled past that one often finds in the genre, but hasn’t let that turn her into a maverick, and I like that her profession as a profiler again gives the novel something a little different to the usual harried police detectives that feature heavily in the genre.

As I mentioned, Alexis’s role isn’t as immediately apparent in Keeper, although the case has a very personal element for Alexis, and she soon proves her worth through her own investigations as she comes at the case from a different angle.  Alexis is another character that I really like, and I have to say that her mother is an absolute star!  I’ll let you find out more about her when you read it, however. 😉

I’ve deliberately not gone into the plot in any detail, as I really think that the above synopsis tells you as much as you need to know going into the novel but like Block 46, this is a wonderfully dark and complex novel that will keep you guessing right to the end.  Highly recommended.

Keeper was published in paperback on 28 April by Orenda Books, and is also available as an eBook.  Many thanks to Anne Cater for the review copy, and the opportunity to take part in the blog tour.

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Make sure you check out the other stops on the blog tour:

FINAL Keeper blog poster 2018

Blog Tour and Extract: The Man on the Middle Floor by Elizabeth S. Moore

the man on the middle floor

It’s my stop on the blog tour for The Man on the Middle Floor today, and I have an extract to share with you.  But first, here’s what it’s all about:

Despite living in the same three-flat house in the suburbs of London, the residents are strangers to one another. The bottom floor is home to Tam, a recent ex-cop who spends his days drowning his sorrows in whisky. On the middle floor is Nick, a young man with Asperger’s who likes to stick to his schedules and routines. The top floor belongs to Karen, a doctor and researcher who has spent her life trying to understand the rising rates of autism. They have lived their lives separately, until now, when an unsolved murder and the man on the middle floor connect them all together. Told from three points of view, The Man on the Middle Floor is about disconnection in all its forms; sexual, physical, parental and emotional. It questions whether society is meeting the needs of the fast growing autistic section of society, or exacerbating it.


Tomorrow, my laundry will come. I know that because it always comes, every week, on a Tuesday. Hanging on the door, no creases. No metal hangers, only wooden. In my cupboard I have seven pairs of beige trousers and I have seven white T-shirts, four white buttoned shirts, ten pairs of socks and ten pairs of underpants. Every week I wear them and then they are all put in the laundry basket and I leave it outside my door to be taken away when the clean ones come back, but my jacket and my coat stay here because they are dark and only go over clean clothes so they only get washed every two weeks, but I have a spare for each of those too. My shoes are in the cupboard. My mother told me you should never wash shoes. I keep them here safe. I once heard some people on a bus laughing because one of them had a husband who got drunk and urinated into her shoes. In a cupboard. People are disgusting. I get new ones if mine get smelly. I don’t want smelly shoes and even if you have three showers your feet have to be on the ground for you to go anywhere and there is nothing you can do about it. The ground is covered with dirt and germs and spit. I shiver right up my back when I think about the stuff on the pavement.

On the back of my door, stuck with Blu Tack right in the middle facing me, I have a list. It’s a list of all the things people do if they are functioning normally. I have made it myself by watching other people and by getting advice from my mother and some instructions from my grandpa. I read it before I go out and try to stick to it and if it goes wrong I just get into bed and wait for the next day to come and I make a new start. I used a new pad and very neat writing, all capitals. From the top it says:









There are a lot of rules if you want to look like a functioning adult and I need to concentrate on that all the time. It’s a BIG responsibility living by yourself and if I want to be independent this is the way I can do that. I hate living in shared accommodation and I can’t live with my mother any more, with her watching me, looking worried, and everything dirty and untidy. I like to be alone, and I like to decide what I should do with my days. I will follow all the rules if it makes sure I can live here.

I can communicate on my computer without actually having to meet anyone. I hate meetings, people looking at me, staring at me. It makes me uncomfortable and I feel their eyes turn towards me, and my body reacting in all kinds of ways, sweating or getting excited. I know how I look to other people, and I don’t like it one bit. I am white. Pasty, my mother calls it, but she likes to be outside. Pasty means you don’t go in the sun enough. I should put that on my list: GO OUTSIDE. I sit down too much and my grandpa says I am three-quarters legs: from my head to my hips I am a dwarf and once he made me stand still and he measured that with his hands, putting germs all over me. When he remembers that day it always makes him laugh. At least I’m not fat. I watched a programme about the fattest man in the world, and I couldn’t eat my dinner. Watch your weight. Keep yourself to yourself. Those are some of my grandpa’s wise words.

Breakfast time, I hate crumbs and crunchy food that can scratch your mouth, so I have the toaster on thirty-five and that is out of a hundred which must make completely black toast which can also give you cancer which I don’t want to get. My toast has to be soft and just a little bit pale brown – don’t give me hard burnt toast. When I was at home I had hard butter and hard toast and I got thinner and thinner from not putting it in my mouth. I don’t have enough spit to make it soft quick enough. Tidy up the crumbs, wipe the side, don’t make the toaster crooked and put the plate on the mat. All done. I sit with my soft butter in front of me, and my glass of water for hydration, eight glasses a day, no drips. Breakfast.

Today is Monday, so tomorrow is Tuesday and the day after that is Wednesday. Wednesday is visit day and my grandpa is coming. He always comes on Wednesdays even when I ask my mother to tell him not to. At least my clothes will be clean and my flat will be tidy so he shouldn’t be cross, and I might not have to be corrected. I hate being corrected and even though Grandpa said I should be used to it by now, I’m not, and that is why we have to have it as a secret or I will have to go back and live with my mother for my own good, and Grandpa is trying to help me stay independent. Now that I have my lists and put out my rubbish and have a routine I must nearly not need correcting, but there is always something I need to add, because life is very complicated. If you don’t want to be corrected, then plan ahead, he says to me, so I always make a plan and today I will go for a long walk, which might make him think I have learned everything now. I think again about adding GO OUTSIDE to the list, but it isn’t a list thing. I might just go out and never come in again, or forget how often, or where to go. I like definite things on that list. It could go on my other list, which is stuck with Blu Tack by my bed, but I already have a walk in for today. I am going to the bank.

I look at it to check.








I start to feel panicky going through my whole week. I like to do my week a day at a time. Today I am going to the bank, because it is Monday. I will make a new plan, but not now.

Making conversation is also very important; Grandpa says that you never know when you will need to be ready to answer things, or when things are spiralling out of control. Grandpa says they are spiralling more and more in the modern world, which is worrying for him, so that is another reason that he has to correct me, for my own good. What Grandpa does to teach me how to be tough and strong hurts quite a lot, and the things he is trying to prepare me for might never happen so I would rather he just waited and I could just learn the lessons if I ever need to, not every single visit day on Wednesday just in case, but I can’t seem to make him understand and I don’t want to be in trouble.

I itch. I rub my arms with each other, as I hate the idea of skin under my nails and I hate the feel of clothes on my skin. It isn’t just pasty, it’s covered in little red bumps and they make me feel a bit sick; they catch on material and the more I try and rub them off in the shower the more bumpy they get. I should go outside. The fresh air will help … my mother says it will help and it will stop me thinking about Grandpa’s visit; I will just go now. City air is not very clean, it has pollution, and the tube is dirty, but I am going to the park tomorrow which will clean my lungs with fresh air.

Grandpa says that a cat would help too, not with the bumpy skin, but I would look responsible, and have company, and all the things that my family talk to me about. Even when I am happy they see a problem to be fixed. I want to be by myself and I can’t really see what a cat is going to do to help anything, but Grandpa says you have to try these things to look more in control and I think that if I agree then he might not have to visit any more, I’m not sure but it must be worth getting one just for that. I don’t know why people worry but if you want to be independent you have to take everyone’s feelings into consideration. That’s what my grandpa says.

The Man on the Middle Floor was published on 12 April by Red Door Publishing.  Make sure you check out the other stops on the blog tour!

the man on the middle floor blog tour poster

Blog Tour: The Lido by Libby Page

the lido

I absolutely loved The Lido, and I’m delighted to be able to share my review as part of the blog tour!

Meet Rosemary, 86, and Kate, 26: dreamers, campaigners, outdoor swimmers…

Rosemary has lived in Brixton all her life, but everything she knows is changing. Only the local lido, where she swims every day, remains a constant reminder of the past and her beloved husband George.

Kate has just moved and feels adrift in a city that is too big for her. She’s on the bottom rung of her career as a local journalist and is determined to make something of it.

So when the lido is threatened with closure, Kate knows this story could be her chance to shine. But for Rosemary, it could be the end of everything. Together they are determined to make a stand, and to prove that the pool is more than just a place to swim – it is the heart of the community.

The Lido is an uplifting novel about the importance of friendship, the value of community, and how ordinary people can protect the things they love.

I absolutely loved the characters of Rosemary and Kate, who, given the age difference, make something of an unlikely pair, although their friendship is so perfectly portrayed that it’s no stretch of the imagination to picture it. Rosemary is an absolute gem – she has a kind word for everyone, and everyone looks out for her in turn. And I loved her memories of her late husband George. Brockwell Lido played a significant role in their relationship both in the first tentative steps of getting to know each other, as well as being somewhere they went together throughout their married life. It’s partly down to this that Rosemary is so invested in the lido’s fate, and it makes her a strong advocate and campaigner, despite the council’s best attempts to ignore her as a little old dear. Rosemary had me cheering from the side lines, and there are some real laugh out loud moments that stem from Rosemary and her actions, as well as a tear or two.

Kate is a very different character, a little shy and timid when we first meet her, she soon shows her strengths as she devotes herself to the campaign to save the lido, which she only came across through her job as a reporter. I really felt a lot for Kate, who feels very alone in the city at the outset, having not made any friends in her two years there and who struggles with occasional panic attacks, which I thought were accurately portrayed. The campaign to save the lido introduces Kate to a whole host of people many of whom she comes to consider as close friends. Additionally, it was thoroughly refreshing to meet a character who isn’t physically perfect but comes to accept herself as she is – I really don’t think that there are enough characters like this.

I also loved the sense of community portrayed here, with everyone finding a way to do their bit in the campaign, and with all age groups and people from all walks of life represented. Some of their actions are quite amusing, and I absolutely loved the rubber ducks! I don’t think I’ve ever become so invested in the fate of a place that I’ve never actually visited. It seems that barely a day goes by when we’re not hearing about another cut to funding that results in the ever-diminishing services to our towns and cities, be it lidos, libraries etc. Whilst a work of fiction, people CAN make a difference in these situations, and there’s a message in this novel about protecting the facilities you’ve got access to, although it’s all too often a case of you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.

The Lido is beautifully written, and Libby Page has delivered a stunning first novel that is amusing and incredibly poignant. The Lido will be published by Orion on 19 April. Many thanks to Rebecca Grey for providing a copy for review.

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Make sure you check out the other stops on the tour:

Lido blog tour (002)

Blog Tour: From a Low and Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan

From A Low And Quiet Sea Cover

I’m delighted to be sharing my review of Donal Ryan latest novel, From a Low and Quiet Sea, today as part of the blog tour.  Donal Ryan is an author who is new to me, but this won’t be the last of his novels that I read.

Can you imagine how that would be?  If a tree is starving, its neighbours will send it food.  No one really knows how this can be, but it is.  Nutrients will travel in the tunnel made of fungus from the roots of a healthy tree to its starving neighbour, even one of a different species.  Trees live, like you and me, long lives, and they know things.  They know the rule, the only one that’s real and must be kept.  What’s the rule?  You know.  I’ve told you lots of times before.  Be kind.

From a Low and Quiet Sea is Donal Ryan’s most expansive book to date, partially set in Syria and partially in the familiar territory of rural Ireland.

Farouk’s country has been torn apart by war.

Lampy’s heart has been laid waste by Chloe.

John’s past torments him as he nears his end.

The refugee.  The dreamer.  The penitent.  From war-torn Syria to small-town Ireland, three men, scarred by all they have loved and lost, are searching for some version of home.  Each is drawn towards a powerful reckoning, one that will bring them together in the most unexpected of ways.

The idea of seemingly disparate characters who lives are connected or brought together in some way is not a new one, but I thought that it was particularly well done in From a Low and Quiet Sea.  The three characters of Farouk, Lampy, and John are connected, and yet the how isn’t revealed until the very end of the novel, and I found the links between them to be quite unexpected.  The structure of the novel works brilliantly in this respect, with each character telling their story in turn, before the final section which is told from the perspectives of various secondary characters that the reader meets along the way.  This reveals the connections between the three men, but also gives more insight into the the minor characters as well as answering the outstanding questions to bring the novel to a satisfying close.

The three main characters are quite different, and I found their stories to be fascinating in different ways.  Farouk’s tale, for me, had the biggest emotional impact, as he and his family leave their homeland behind in a bid to escape the horrors of war.  Lampy’s story is one that is quite familiar, as he watches his former classmates graduating from university and beginning careers whilst he continues to work on a cash-in-hand basis and feeling as though his life is going nowhere, his frustration building.  John’s story was quite different again, and is one that I found to be particularly intriguing.  It is confessional in tone, as John looks back at his past, driven perhaps by a need to atone for his actions.  I found it difficult to sympathise with John, but his story is an interesting one.

From a Low and Quiet Sea is a short novel, but I think that it’s one to savour as you get to know each of the characters and their lives, and I loved that Ryan was able to give each of his characters a distinct voice.  Exploring themes of loss and grief throughout, this is a relatively short novel that packs an emotional punch, and it is one that will stay with me for some time to come.

From a Low and Quiet Sea was published on 22 March by Doubleday.  Many thanks to Anne Cater for the review copy and the opportunity to take part in the blog tour.

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Make sure you check out the other stops on the tour!

From A Low & Quiet Sea Blog Tour Poster

Blog Tour: The Long Forgotten by David Whitehouse

the long forgotten

I’m absolutely delighted to be kicking off the blog tour for David Whitehouse’s latest novel, The Long Forgotten.  This was a novel that I was eager to read as soon as I heard about it late last year, drawn by both the blurb and the comparisons to the works of David Mitchell and Matt Haig.

When the black box flight recorder of a plane that went missing 30 years ago is found at the bottom of the sea, a young man named Dove begins to remember a past that isn’t his. The memories belong to a rare flower hunter in 1980s New York, whose search led him around the world and ended in tragedy.

Restless and lonely in present-day London, Dove is quickly consumed by the memories, which might just hold the key to the mystery of his own identity and what happened to the passengers on that doomed flight, The Long Forgotten.

There are multiple threads to this novel, and it wasn’t immediately clear how they were connected.  Firstly, there is Dove – a young man working in ambulance dispatch who was abandoned as a baby.  Whilst he was taken in by a loving older couple, the emotional scars that he bears as a result of his abandonment and not knowing his birth parents are easy to see, and I felt a great deal of sympathy for Dove as he feels the need to keep other people at arms’ length, his fear of abandonment still strong even as an adult.  He is a lovely if slightly unusual character, and I enjoyed the slow reveal of both his past and present, the latter of which is dominated by the memories that he begins to experience – memories that can’t be his own.

The memories he begins to experience are those of Peter Manyweathers – a man who cleans the houses of the recently deceased – usually when they weren’t found straightaway.  After finding a bog violet on one of his jobs, he quickly becomes obsessed with seeking out rare flowers around the world.  For me, Peter’s adventures were the best part of the novel.  Whilst set in the very recent past, travel at the time was so different to what it is today, and I loved the journeys he made as he sought out increasingly rare blooms that are often situated in inaccessible places, flowering for a brief period of time.  Whilst not much of one for flowers, I couldn’t help but look up some these blooms myself as I read along, thoroughly intrigued by this unusual hobby.

There is also the mystery of the black box flight recorder of flight PS570, which disappeared 30 years ago, and I was intrigued to see how the novel would play out and how the various threads would come together by the end of the story, which didn’t quite end as I expected it to.  This is a wonderfully touching novel, by turns amusing (usually because of Professor Cole, who discovers the flight recorder) and sad.  It explores themes of memory, identity and self-discovery, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Long Forgotten will be published on 22 March by Picador.  Many thanks to Emma Finnigan for the review copy, and to Anne Cater for inviting me to join the blog tour.

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Make sure you check out the other stops on the blog tour:

The Long Forgotten Blog Tour Poster