Wednesday 30 September 2020

The Witch Hunter by Max Seeck BLOG TOUR @MaxSeeck #TheWitchHunter @ed_pr @WelbeckPublish


Detective Jessica Niemi is called to investigate a murder case which is completely out of the ordinary. The wife of a famous writer, Roger Koponen, appears to have been killed in a bizarre ritual.As more ritual murders occur in the coming days, it becomes obvious that Jessica is after a serial killer. But the murders are not random - they follow a pattern taken from Roger's bestselling trilogy. Has a devoted fan lost their mind, or is this case more personal?

The Witch Hunter by Max Seeck was published on 17 September 2020 by Welbeck Publishing. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review, and to ed public relations who invited me to take part on this blog tour.

I've not read anything by Max Seeck in the past and the blurb for The Witch Hunter really intrigued me. I love Nordic crime fiction and as soon as I saw mention of a serial killer and Helsinki, I was in!

This is a lengthy novel at around 500 pages but it's one of those that you just keep reading and reading until your eyes droop, before you know it, you've raced through 100 pages or so and it really didn't take me long to finish this one.

The story opens as Maria Koponen looks out from her luxury home at the frozen sea. The author builds up the tension quickly and there's a real unease as you read this. The sudden ending to this introduction just left me desperate to know more.

Maria's husband Roger is a best-selling crime fiction author. His latest series of books have been runaway best sellers and he is in demand at literary events all around the country. The reader is introduced to Roger as he struggles to hide his boredom at yet another book talk. However, his interest is piqued by an unusual question from a strange man in the audience. The author paints Roger as a self-obsessed deceit man whose morals are questionable.

Jessica Niemi is a police officer and it's not long before she and her team are well acquainted by both Roger and his wife. Jessica is something of an enigma, the reader is often left in the dark about her background, yet it is clear that she has much to hide.

What follows is a complex and quite intense murder mystery. This author has cleverly constructed his story which incorporates grisly, violent death and some mystical elements that are cleverly perplexing. It becomes clear that the murderer is basing the deaths on those that Roger Koponen has detailed in his crime novels. Really cleverly done, by both Max Seeck and the the fictional murderer!

A novel filled with twist and turns that will lead you astray and make you dizzy. I did struggle at times with Jessica's backstory, which felt sometimes like an intrusion on the main plot line. Despite this, it's a thrill of a read and I will certainly look out for more from this author.

Sunday 27 September 2020

The Second Marriage by Gill Paul @GillPaulAUTHOR @RandomTTours BLOG TOUR @AvonBooksUK #TheSecondMarriage




When her first marriage ends in tragedy, Jackie Kennedy fears she’ll never love again. But all that changes when she encounters…

Successful and charming, Ari Onassis is a man who promises her the world. Yet soon after they marry, Jackie learns that his heart also belongs to another…

A beautiful, famed singer, Maria Callas is in love with Jackie’s new husband – and she isn’t going to give up.

Little by little, Jackie and Maria’s lives begin to tangle in a dangerous web of secrets, scandal and lies. But with both women determined to make Ari theirs alone, the stakes are high. How far will they go for true love?

The Second Marriage by Gill Paul was published in paperback on 17 September 2020 by Avon. My thanks to the author who sent my copy for review.

As part of the #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I'm delighted to share my thoughts about the book today.


I was totally enthralled by The Second Marriage, so much so that I couldn't put it down for more than a few minutes, and when I did, I bored every person within earshot about it!

I was brought up by an Irish Catholic mother. I spent every summer in Donegal with her family and every single house, bar none had a photo of John F Kennedy on the wall, alongside the Sacred Heart and the portrait of the Pope. My Mum was fascinated by the Kennedys and I grew up loving the stories and the glamour and mystery.

Whilst we have a glut of celebrities now, all across social media, showing us their homes and their families, none of them seem to have that glitz that the Kennedys did. There is no doubt that the Kennedy clan were not all sweetness and light, and the so-called 'Kennedy Curse' proves that, but there was something about the immaculate clothes and the exotic locations that were just fascinating.

When I heard that Gill Paul was basing her latest novel on the lives of two of the most well-known females of that era; Jackie Kennedy Onassis, and Maria Callas, I was delighted and so looking forward to reading it. I really haven't been disappointed. It's an excellent novel.

The author makes it clear in her Author Notes that this is not a true story. She has researched what is known about Jackie and Maria and she has created her own take on their story. However, when reading it, I really wanted to believe everything that the author had created. It is clear that she's really researched both characters, and this is a sympathetic and quite exquisite re-telling of their lives, with a little bit of fiction added.

It's difficult to prefer one woman over the other. When one learns about Jackie's early life, even though it was one of privilege and a certain amount of wealth, she experienced the break-down of her parents marriage and came to realise that although her father loved her dearly, he wasn't a great role model. Her mother was cold and calculating, and it was made clear to both Jackie and her sister Lee that the only way in life was to marry money. Of course Jackie did that.

Maria Callas was probably the most talented opera singer that ever lived and her talent thrust her into the spotlight. Her own mother was determined, yet uncaring and she betrayed Maria many times over the years.

Both women struggled to know what love really was, both of them tolerated infidelity from their partners whilst displaying dignity and grace to the public, although Maria did feel the wrath of the popular press on many occasions.

Most of us are aware of the circumstances of John F Kennedy's assassination and Jackie's second marriage to Aristotle Onassis. Many of us will know that although officially, Onassis' nine-year relationship with Maria was over when he married, they continued to see each other until his death.

This is a beautifully written, rich and emotive story that will transfix the reader. Transported to the glamour of society's elite whilst privy to the deep sorrow, sadness and at times, bitterness experienced by both Jackie and Maria, it's a huge story of love and many deceptions. 

There is no doubt that The Second Marriage will have a place on my favourite books of the year. It's really quite wonderful.

Gill Paul's historical novels have reached the top of the USA Today, Toronto Globe & Mail and kindle charts, and been translated into twenty languages. They include THE SECOND MARRIAGE (titled JACKIE AND MARIA in the US), two bestselling novels about the Romanovs - THE SECRET WIFE and THE LOST DAUGHTER - as well as WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST, which was shortlisted for the 2013 RNA Epic Novel of the Year award, NO PLACE FOR A LADY, shortlisted for a Love Stories award, and ANOTHER WOMAN'S HUSBAND, about links you might not have suspected between Wallis Simpson and Princess Diana.
Gill also writes historical non-fiction, including A HISTORY OF MEDICINE IN 50 OBJECTS, and she speaks at libraries and literary festivals on subjects ranging from the Titanic to the Romanovs.
Gill lives in London, where she is working on her tenth novel, and she swims daily in an outdoor pond.

Instagram @gill.paul1
Author Page on Facebook

Tuesday 22 September 2020

Jesse's Girl by Tara September @TaraSeptember BLOG TOUR @RandomTTours #GuestPost #JessesGirl

Successful Texas lawyer, Reade Walker, curses that damn song every time it plays, all too aware of the irony of its lyrics. After all, he has been secretly and painfully enamored with Jesse’s girl, Gwen, for nearly a decade. It was love at first sight for him, but sadly she’s not his girl. She belongs to the one man who betrayed him and knows Reade’s hidden family secret. Yet Reade can’t seem to love anyone except the one woman he can't have. Or can he make her mine?

When Gwen Clark’s senator husband runs off with his intern and all their money, the ensuing scandal turns her life upside down. Deserted, penniless and desperate to provide for her six-year-old daughter, Gwen has no one to turn to but Reade Walker. The one man her heart desperately wants, but her pride dreads having to ask for help. Despite welcoming them into his home, it seems like Reade can barely stand being in the same room with her anymore, let alone under the same roof—in the same bedroom. But Gwen is determined to get her life back on track. It is past time to rediscover her own dreams…if only she can keep her aching heart from breaking all over again.

Jesse's Girl by Tara September was published in April 2019. As part of the #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour I am delighted to welcome the author here today with a fabulous guest post.

Do you have any regrets?

Several years ago, I was asked this question at a conference and I cockily answered, "No." I've always went out and got what I wanted... or at least tried to. And the setbacks I wouldn't change either as it made me who I am today. So, with a smug smile, I sat there for a few blissful minutes telling myself that I had no regrets and that this workshop didn’t apply to me.

But inner voice inside me, kind of bitchy in tone, shouted "Liar! What about your book?" *pop* and just like that, my peaceful bubble burst.

Now let me confess my regret. I had started an untitled romance story back in high school. I would pick it up off and on over the years, but then I dropped it. I told myself it wasn't any good and that it was just too hard to complete. I’d say if only I’d wake up and everything inside my head could all be written out for me. Yup, lazy! I still wanted to write, but figured short form was probably better for me and that's why I went into journalism.

After the conference got my wheels turning. So, I put on my big girl pants and got to work. I spent three straight weeks into the wee hours of the night writing a new story, Jesse's Girl. Followed by two years of editing it and submitting my manuscript to contests and getting feedback both good and bad. I then hired two editors and relied heavily on a friend to comb through it all. I've learned that writing is the easy part, crafting it and ripping it apart is the hard part.

Eventually, I received an offer from a publisher, but I turned it down. They wanted my heroine Gwen to be pining for her Ex. The same guy who stole their money, cheated on her and didn’t love her. I already thought Gwen was weak, but made sure she grew stronger throughout the story, but this really would have made me hate her, lol. So, I turned it down. Oh, and they also wanted me to make it a medical story since doctors were more popular at the time. So, I self-published and no regrets baby. I just hope you like it :)

TARA SEPTEMBER - September 2020 

About Tara September
Blogger and former PR executive for The Walt Disney Company, Tara holds a Master’s degree in journalism & communications from New York University. She also spent a semester abroad during her undergrad at Queen Mary University in London. For over a decade before publishing, Tara has penned a popular lifestyle, travel and parenting blog at

Always an avid romance reader, she has been daydreaming about being an author since school. Dozens of bad dates, four cities and adventures later, she still finds it impossible that she met her husband on a New York City subway. They now live in sunny Florida with identical twin boys and four cats underfoot/on her laptop/everywhere. Fueled by an IV of green tea and sometimes Champagne, she's finally writing the happily ever after tales she's been dreaming about.

Friday 18 September 2020

Witness X by SE Moorhead @semoorhead #WitnessX @TrapezeBooks #BookReview

She's the only one who can access the truth...
Fourteen years ago, the police caged a notorious serial killer who abducted and butchered two victims every February. He was safe behind bars. Wasn't he?
But then another body is discovered, and soon enough, the race is on to catch the real killer. Neuropsychologist Kyra Sullivan fights to use a new technology that accesses the minds of the witnesses, working with the police to uncover the truth. Will Kyra discover the person behind the murders, and if so, at what cost? And how far will she go to ensure justice is served?
An addictive futuristic thriller, perfect for fans of Stranger Things.

Witness X by SE Moorhead was published in paperback by Trapeze on 6 February 2020, my thanks to the author who sent my copy for review.

I was absolutely and totally gripped by this story, from the intriguing and inviting prologue, right through to the very last page. It's unlike anything that I've read before; it's fresh and exciting and so well paced.

Set in the year 2035, this certainly has a feel of 'The Minority Report' about it, for me that's an added bonus as it's one of my favourite films. I am fascinated by the speed of technology, how things that we could never have imagined as children are now part of our everyday lives. Things get faster and faster, and more experimental, and not always for the good.

Kyra Sullivan is a neuropsychologist and is currently working on a new and very powerful piece of technology. Her invention can access the memories of other people, and Kyra is determined that this will be used for the good. She intends it to be used in the criminal justice system, allowing police investigators to access the memories of witnesses to crime. There's a long way to go though, getting this technology approved by the courts will not be easy, and there's one other fly in the ointment ... Kyra's business partner. He's determined to make money from this, and is in negotiations to allow the MOD to have control of it, to use to prevent terrorism.

Fourteen years ago Kyra worked alongside the police on the investigation, capture and conviction of a serial killer. David Lomax was imprisoned, but he's escaped and Kyra can't believe it. The case is very personal to her and her family. When a body is found that matches exactly how Lomax killed, it is clear that he's back on a killing spree, and everyone knows that there will be another body found soon; that's what he did; two murders, every February.

Or, is it Lomax? He's claimed his innocence since the day he was arrested, and there are signs that indicate that maybe, just maybe, he wasn't guilty, or did he have an accomplice?

This is an extraordinary thriller. The advances in modern technology are wonderfully created and inserted into the story so well that the reader can almost believe that they really do exist. The little things like the targeted marketing as someone walks past an advertising board; the devices instead of a mobile phone .. things that we almost have, but not quite. There's certainly a nod to Alexa in there.

SE Moorhead has created a dark and often disturbing thriller, there are scenes of violence and there are also scenes of tenderness as the reader gets to know Kyra as a person and not just as an investigator. She's an intelligent and driven character who is determined to seek justice for the women who were killed years ago, and to prevent any more needless deaths. Kyra puts herself in danger many times, and the tension increases as the plot progresses.

The insertion of thoughts direct from the mind of the murderer is genius and adds a sense of menace that creates such a depth to the story.

Gritty, dark, unusual and completely gripping. I was totally absorbed by this story and really look forward to more from this talented author.

Born in Liverpool, S.E.Moorhead has told stories since childhood and uses writing as bubblegum for her over-active brain – to keep it out of trouble. 
Fascinated by meaning, motivation and mystery, she studied Theology at university.

Over the last twenty five years, apart from teaching in secondary school, S.E.Moorhead has attained a black belt in kickboxing, worked as a chaplain, established a Justice and Peace youth group, and written articles for newspapers and magazines about her work in education and religion.

She still lives in her beloved hometown with her husband Seán and two sons.
Twitter @semoorhead

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman @richardosman #TheThursdayMurderClub @VikingBooksUK @PenguinUKBooks

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved murders.
But when a brutal killing takes place on their very doorstep, the Thursday Murder Club find themselves in the middle of their first live case.
Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.
Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer before it's too late?

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman was published by Viking / Penguin on 3 September 2020 in hardback.
As part of the Blog Tour, I'm delighted to share an extract from the book with you today

Extract from The Thursday Murder Club
by Richard Osman

Killing someone is easy. Hiding the body, now that’s usually the hard part. That’s how you get caught.
I was lucky enough to stumble upon the right place, though. The perfect place, really.
I come back from time to time, just to make sure everything is still safe and sound. It always is, and I suppose it always will be.
Sometimes I’ll have a cigarette, which I know I shouldn’t, but it’s my only vice.
Part One
Meet New People and Try New Things
Well, let’s start with Elizabeth, shall we? And see where that gets us?
        I knew who she was, of course; everybody here knows Elizabeth. She has one of the three-bed flats in Larkin Court. It’s the one on the corner, with the decking? Also, I was once on a quiz team with Stephen, who, for a number of reasons, is Elizabeth’s third husband.
        I was at lunch, this is two or three months ago, and it must have been a Monday, because it was shepherd’s pie. Elizabeth said she could see that I was eating, but wanted to ask me a question about knife wounds, if it wasn’t inconvenient?
        I said, ‘Not at all, of course, please,’ or words to that effect. I won’t always remember everything exactly, I might as well tell you that now. So she opened a manila folder, and I saw some typed sheets and the edges of what looked like old photographs. Then she was straight into it.
        Elizabeth asked me to imagine that a girl had been stabbed with a knife. I asked what sort of knife she had been stabbed with, and Elizabeth said probably just a normal kitchen knife. John Lewis. She didn’t say that, but that was what I pictured. Then she asked me to imagine this girl had been stabbed, three or four times, just under the breastbone. In and out, in and out, very nasty, but without severing an artery. She was fairly quiet about the whole thing, because people were eating, and she does have some boundaries.
        So there I was, imagining stab wounds, and Elizabeth asked me how long it would take the girl to bleed to death.
        By the way, I realize I should have mentioned that I was a nurse for many years, otherwise none of this will make sense to you. Elizabeth would have known that from somewhere, because Elizabeth knows everything. Anyway, that’s why she was asking me. You must have wondered what I was on about. I will get the hang of writing this, I promise.
I remember dabbing at my mouth before I answered, like you see on television sometimes. It makes you look cleverer, try it. I asked what the girl had weighed.
        Elizabeth found the information in her folder, followed her finger and read out that the girl had been forty-six kilos. Which threw us both, because neither of us was sure what forty-six kilos was in real money. In my head I was thinking it must be about twenty-three stone? Two to one was my thinking. Even as I thought that, though, I suspected I was getting mixed up with inches and centimetres.
        Elizabeth let me know the girl definitely wasn’t twenty-three stone, as she had a picture of her corpse in the folder. She tapped the folder at me, before turning her attention back to the room, and said, ‘Will somebody ask Bernard what forty-six kilos is?’
        Bernard always sits by himself, on one of the smaller tables nearest the patio. It is Table 8. You don’t need to know that, but I will tell you a bit about Bernard.
        Bernard Cottle was very kind to me when I first arrived at Coopers Chase. He brought me a clematis cutting and explained the recycling timetable. They have four different coloured bins here. Four! Thanks to Bernard, I know that green is for glass, and blue is cardboard and paper. As for red and black, though, your guess is still as good as mine. I’ve seen all sorts as I’ve wandered about. Someone once put a fax machine in one.
        Bernard had been a professor, something in science, and had worked all around the world, including going to Dubai before anyone had heard of it. True to form, he was wearing a suit and tie to lunch, but was, nevertheless, reading the Daily Express. Mary from Ruskin Court, who was at the next table, got his attention and asked how much forty-six kilos was when it was at home.
        Bernard nodded and called over to Elizabeth, ‘Seven stone three and a bit.’
        And that’s Bernard for you.
        Elizabeth thanked him and said that sounded about right, and Bernard returned to his crossword. I looked up centimetres and inches afterwards, and at least I was right about that.
        Elizabeth went back to her question. How long would the girl stabbed with the kitchen knife have to live? I guessed that, unattended, she would probably die in around forty-five minutes.
        ‘Well, quite, Joyce,’ she said, and then had another question. What if the girl had had medical assistance? Not a doctor, but someone who could patch up a wound. Someone who’d been in the army, perhaps. Someone like that
        I have seen a lot of stab wounds in my time. My job wasn’t all sprained ankles. So I said then, well, she wouldn’t die at all. Which she wouldn’t. It wouldn’t have been fun for her, but it would have been easy to patch up.
        Elizabeth was nodding away, and said that was precisely what she had told Ibrahim, although I didn’t know Ibrahim at that time. As I say, this was a couple of months ago.
        It hadn’t seemed at all right to Elizabeth, and her view was that the boyfriend had killed her. I know this is still often the case. You read about it.
        I think before I moved in I might have found this whole conversation unusual, but it is pretty par for the course once you get to know everyone here. Last week I met the man who invented Mint Choc Chip ice cream, or so he tells it. I don’t really have any way of checking.
        I was glad to have helped Elizabeth in my small way, so decided I might ask a favour. I asked if there was any way I could take a look at the picture of the corpse. Just out of professional interest.
        Elizabeth beamed, the way people around here beam when you ask to look at pictures of their grandchildren graduating. She slipped an A4 photocopy out of her folder, laid it, face down, in front of me and told me to keep it, as they all had copies.
        I told her that was very kind of her, and she said not at all, but she wondered if she could ask me one final question.
        ‘Of course,’ I said.
        Then she said, ‘Are you ever free on Thursdays?’
        And, that, believe it or not, was the first I had heard of Thursdays.

Richard Osman is an author, producer and television presenter. 
The Thursday Murder Club is his first novel. He is well known for TV shows including Pointless and Richard Osman's House of Games. 
As the creative director of Endemol UK, Richard has worked as an executive producer on numerous shows including Deal Or No Deal and 8 Out of 10 Cats. 
He is also a regular on panel and game shows such as Have I Got News For You, Would I Lie To You and Taskmaster.
Twitter @richardosman

Thursday 17 September 2020

The Dilemma by BA Paris @BAParisAuthor @HQStories @izsmith95 #TheDilemma #PublicationDay #BookReview

It’s Livia’s 40th birthday and she’s having the party of a lifetime to make up for the wedding she never had. Everyone she loves will be there except her daughter Marnie, who’s studying abroad. But although Livia loves Marnie, she’s secretly glad she won’t be at the party. She needs to tell Adam something about their daughter but she’s waiting until the party is over so they can have this last happy time together.
Adam wants everything to be perfect for Livia so he’s secretly arranged for Marnie to come home and surprise her on her birthday. During the day, he hears some terrible news. He needs to tell Livia, because how can the party go on? But she’s so happy, so excited – and the guests are about to arrive.
The Dilemma – how far would you go to give someone you love a last few hours of happiness?

The Dilemma by BA Paris is published in paperback today, 17 September 2020. The hardback was published in January this year. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

The Dilemma is something of a change in style for this author. Best known for her twisty psychological thriller stories, The Dilemma is more of a domestic drama, incorporating guilt, grief and lies.

Livia has dreamt of her 40th birthday party for years. She didn't get the wedding of her dreams and her 40th was always going to make up for that. She's saved money, secretly and has plotted and planned for years. She is determined that this is going to be her day. The one day where she is the centre of attention and where everything will be perfect.

There's one fly in the ointment though, and that is her daughter Marnie. Marnie is in Hong Kong studying and won't be able to get home in time to attend the party. Whilst on the exterior, Livia appears upset that Marnie won't be there, the reader is privy to her innermost, private thoughts and we know that she is relieved that the party will go on without her daughter. However, what we don't know is why, and it is this mystery that kept me intrigued throughout.

Livia's husband Adam has his own secrets though and is plotting his own surprise for her. Adam is not naturally a secretive person and is struggling to juggle the fibs. All he wants is for Livia to have the most perfect day.
It's the day of the party and the sun is shining at last. It really does seem that everything is going to go to plan, and then Adam receives the most devastating news. He knows that he has to tell Livia the truth, but he also knows that if he does, the party will not go ahead.

That's the dilemma.   Oh, along with the one that Livia is hiding ... how does she tell Adam about Marnie?

I didn't like Livia. I just didn't like her at all. However, I'm a huge fan of an unlikeable character and when they are done well, they really do make a story, and BA Paris has created Livia perfectly. Adam left me feeling a bit cold sometimes too, he's basically a weak bloke who wants to please everyone, he could do with a kick up the backside at times, but honestly, this just added to my enjoyment of their predicament. Maybe I'm just too mean ... I enjoyed their dilemma so much!

This is certainly a gripping story and as Livia slowly reveals what she knows about Marnie, and Adam gets more agitated and anxious, the tension increases. A really stylish and addictive read that really kept me on my toes.

B A Paris is the internationally bestselling author of Behind Closed DoorsThe Breakdown and Bring Me Back. 
Now approaching 1.5 million copies sold in the UK alone, she is a Sunday Times bestseller, New York Times bestseller as well as a number one bestseller on Amazon and iBooks. 
Her books have sold in 38 languages around the world. 

Having lived in France for many years, she recently moved back to the UK.

Twitter @BAParisAuthor

Wednesday 16 September 2020

The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks #TheBigChill #TheSkelfs #BookReview

Haunted by their past, the Skelf women are hoping for a quieter life. But running both a funeral directors' and a private investigation business means trouble is never far away, and when a car crashes into the open grave at a funeral that matriarch Dorothy is conducting, she can't help looking into the dead driver's shadowy life.

While Dorothy uncovers a dark truth at the heart of Edinburgh society, her daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah have their own struggles. Jenny's ex-husband Craig is making plans that could shatter the Skelf women's lives, and the increasingly obsessive Hannah has formed a friendship with an elderly professor that is fast turning deadly.

But something even more sinister emerges when a drumming student of Dorothy's disappears and suspicion falls on her parents. The Skelf women find themselves sucked into an unbearable darkness but could the real threat be to themselves?

Following three women as they deal with the dead, help the living and find out who they are in the process, The Big Chill follows A Dark Matter, book one in the Skelfs series, which reboots the classic PI novel while asking the big existential questions, all with a big dose of pitch-black humour.

The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone was published by Orenda Books (ebook 20 June 2020 and paperback on 20 August 2020). The Big Chill is the second in The Skelfs series.

I read and reviewed book one; A Dark Matter back in November last year and I absolutely loved it. This is a crime series quite unlike any other. A team of female private investigators, all from different generations of the same family who also happen to run an undertaker business. All set in the city of Edinburgh, and usually taking in the areas unseen by tourists.

Whilst The Big Chill can be read as a standalone, I'd suggest that anyone who hasn't yet read A Dark Matter should do so. You'll have the advantage of knowing more about this intriguing family, although the author does cleverly add in the important stages of the backstory within this novel too.

Dorothy is the head of the family now that her husband of fifty years is dead. She grew up in the US but has been in Scotland for many many years. Her divorced daughter Jenny is now living with her after some traumatic and life-changing events concerning her ex-husband Craig. Jenny's own daughter, Hannah also works in the business, as does her partner Indy, who is training to be an undertaker.
The Skelf women are strong minded and strong willed, they have overcome things that would slay many of us and are determined that they will become even stronger.

However, the memories of what Craig did to them are never far from their thoughts. Both Jenny and Hannah are dealing with guilt-laden grief at the death of an innocent young woman.

Johnstone tells his story through the individual voices of the three women and he really does excel in creating a relatable and genuine female voice, it's quite incredible at time how utterly realistic these voices are.

The story begins as Dorothy is carrying out her undertaking duties at a fairly run of the mill funeral. Everything changes when a speeding car hurtles across the burial ground and ends up embedded in the open grave. The driver is killed outright. After the shock has worn off, Dorothy becomes obsessed with finding out just who is the driver that she nicknames Jimmy X. Using her private investigator skills she begins to delve deeper into this mystery and uncovers some shocking truths that feature the rich and elite of Edinburgh. Meanwhile, both Jenny and Hannah are dealing with their own mysteries; the suspicious demise of an elderly professor and the aftermath of Craig's previous murderous spree. Add into the mix the disappearance of one of Dorothy's drumming students and the reader is thrust into the heart of a multi-layered, complex and incredibly clever plot.

Doug Johnstone does not shy away from the dark and the uncomfortable, yet he does with with an ease and compassion and fabulous sprinkle of dry Scottish humour too. Despite the serious issues uncovered by the Skelfs as the story progresses, there is a tenderness that runs all the way through it too.

The Big Chill is a fabulous follow up to what was one of my favourite books last year. This talented author can do no wrong in my eyes. His depiction of the complexities of a the female family relationship is wonderfully done, with empathy, warmth and some deliciously dark humour.  Roll on book three, I cannot wait!

Doug Johnstone is the author of ten novels, most recently Breakers (2018), which was longlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. Several of his books have been bestsellers and award winners, and his work has been praised by the likes of Val McDermid, Irvine Welsh and Ian Rankin. He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions, and has been an arts journalist for twenty years. Doug is a songwriter and musician with five albums and three EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He’s also player-manager of the Scotland Writers Football Club. He lives in Edinburgh.
Follow Doug on Twitter @doug_johnstone and visit his website:

Tuesday 15 September 2020

Summer's End by Kristy Brown @KBrownauthor BLOG TOUR #SummersEnd @RandomTTours

She wakes up in the hospital, badly burned with no identity. 
He’s been trained to kill her before she burns the world to ashes. 
When they finally meet, will he be able to take her life now that he’s started to feel for her? 
His fate is already written. 
The prophecy is already set. Love between them is forbidden.

Summer's End by Kristy Brown was published in August 2018. As part of this #RandomThingsTours  Blog Tour, I am delighted to share an extract from the book with you today.

An Extract from Summer's End by Kristy Brown

Somewhere between then and now

Screaming jolts me from my sleep. A shrill, sickening sound that vibrates deep within me. My stomach lurches as vomit rises up, sitting in my throat. Covering my ears, I pray for it to end. Someone is in excruciating pain. As the seconds unravel, and my consciousness clears, I realise that it’s me; I’m the one screaming out in constant agony. I want to stop but can’t. I need to force it all out, the pain, the darkness and this feeling of complete dread. There’s this great hole in my chest, like an inkblot expanding, taking over me until there’s nothing left.

Sobbing, my energy depleted, my emotions turn to sorrow. The slightest movement makes my flesh tear. My hands are now sore, blistered gloves of skin. I want to wriggle out of this body, discard it like a cheap suit...I want to walk away from this pain, this living hell, this life...I want to die. Why didn’t I die?

The skin holding my face together seems too tight for my skull. I want to rip it off. Digging my fingernails in, I drag them roughly down my cheeks.

“It burns!” I cry. “It burns!” There’s blood caked in my nails, and yet I still scratch. I can’t stop. It must come away, this rotten shell... I want it off me! I tear and claw at it, not just my face now; my legs, arms, and stomach...every touch feeling like a scorch mark, a lighted match etching over this flesh. I know I’m still under here somewhere, a prisoner in my own body. How did I become this? I don’t know if I’ve been brought here to die but right now, I’d welcome it. I’m lost, alone in this unknown hell. The real me has to be here somewhere...but who the hell am I? What’s happening to me?

“Help...please help me.”

“Stop!” A slim, tall woman appears. “You must stop.”

I obey without question. Tears trickling down my cheeks feel like drops of acid. The woman moves closer. With blurry eyes, I can see that she’s beautiful, the kind of woman people see in dreams...I must look disgusting to her. She smiles, and I immediately relax. Her silver eyes lock with mine, and I feel a sense of weightlessness. The pain’s still there, but I’m floating up, away from it. I know when my eyes open again that this nightmare will still be ongoing...but for now, I’m letting go of everything. If this is death, then it can take me. I’m silent, my body numb as I await her instructions. I’m floating somewhere between my body and the ceiling. In this moment, I am content to die. “You need to rest.”

“Who are you?” My voice sounds distant, like it doesn’t belong to me.

“I am here to help you, Summer.”

“Yes, that’s my name, isn’t it...Summer.” I know that but can’t seem to think

past it to any other details about myself. Every time I try, a huge mental door clamps down in my mind. Panic bubbles, tightening my chest; I can’t remember one thing about this ‘Summer’ person I’m supposed to be. I have no recollection of anything at all! “What’s happened to me?” I whisper.

“You were in a terrible fire. Luckily, you are still with us.”

“A fire? What fire?” Shaking, I look down at my injuries and anxiety sweeps through me all over again. “I want to die,” I sob. “You should have let me die.”

“Please don’t.” She carefully places her hand on my hair. I feel cooler, like an anesthetic is washing over me. “The process will take a while. I’m going to give you something to ease your pain.”

I feel a pinch to my arm and I’m incredibly sleepy.

“Did you save him too?”

“Save who, Summer?”

“I-I...don’t know...” My sore eyelids weigh down over swollen eyes. “I should have died...” I utter as a welcome abyss embraces me.


I'm Kristy and I live in the U.K. I have always written short stories and poetry. I went to university to study acting which I loved, but my real passion has always been writing. So now I write the kind of stories I would have wanted to read as a teen. "Kiera's Quest-Awakenings" is my first ebook. There are four in the teen fantasy series, 'Sacrifices,' 'Perceptions,' and 'Choices.'( Muse It Up Publishing.) Kiera's Quest is now also available in paperback, book one includes the first two e-books, and book two (paperback) will be out 2020. The new paperback versions have been slightly rewritten and updated.

My YA contemporary romance book, "Just Sam," Is available on Amazon in print & on Kindle as is my YA/ New Adult fairy tale retelling, 'Cinderfella.'

I dreamt the lead male character in "Summer's End," a YA Paranormal romance series, published again with with 'Muse It Up Publishing.' Alex was so real and vivid that I had to write him.This title is also available in print and e-book. 

Book two of this series "Summer's Lost" was out December 2019. I'm currently editing book three to this series. I love reading YA angels,vamps etc. I love my kids and hopefully one day they will enjoy my crazy tales!

Twitter @Kbrownauthor