Blog Tour~Him by Clare Empson

Hey everyone,

Today, Ellen is taking part in the blog tour for Him by Clare Empson and I’ll be sharing her review with you all a little further down.

About the book:

It all started with … HIM. Catherine has become mute. She has witnessed something so disturbing that she simply can’t speak – not to her husband, her children, or her friends. The doctors say the only way forward is to look into her past. Catherine needs to start with Him. Lucian. Catherine met the love of her life at university and was drawn into his elite circle of privileged, hedonistic friends. But one night it all falls apart and she leaves him, shattering his life forever. Still, fifteen years later, Lucian haunts every one of Catherine’s quiet moments, and when they are unexpectedly reunited, their love reignites with explosive force. But they can’t move on from what happened all those years ago. In fact, uncovering the truth will cause their lives to implode once again. This time, with disastrous consequences.

Click the link below to order your copy:

Him by Clare Empson

About the author:

Clare Empson is a journalist with a background in national newspapers and has worked as a small business editor, finance correspondent and fashion at the Mail on Sunday and the Daily Express. Clare freelances for The Sunday Telegraph, The Sunday Times, the Evening Standard and Tatler amongst others. She currently works as editor/founder of experiential lifestyle website http://www.countrycalling.co.uk. Him is her debut novel. Her second novel Mine is an exploration of the fraught relationship between a birth mother and her adopted son set against a backdrop of a passionate love affair in the 70s. Mine will be available August 2019.

Ellen’s Review:

After hearing the author speak about Him at Harrogate Crime Writers Festival I had to read the book and was not disappointed. In a way it wasn’t what I expected and I certainly didn’t bargain on the emotions it put me through or that I’d be in tears by the end!

The main character Catherine has elective mutism after witnessing…something devastating. She refuses to speak to anyone including her husband and two young children. I was puzzled from the start, what on Earth could have happened that was so bad she couldn’t speak of it to her closest family? Slowly the tale is revealed as we dip in and out of the past. Fifteen years earlier Catherine met the love of her life and the eponymous Him of the novel, Lucian, at university. They are from different sides of the track so to speak and Catherine is soon swept up into an elite circle of friends intent on having the best (and most hedonistic) times of their lives. Catherine and Lucian are so obviously made for each other and their love borders on the obsessive so we are left wondering what happened to shatter this relationship and for Catherine to end up breaking up with Lucian abruptly without explanation and later marrying Sam, a dependable admirer.

I did feel sorry for Sam (and the children) as their time together feels like a chapter, possibly even an inconvenience, in her life that Catherine has settled on while still pining for her lost love. Obviously by the end of the novel and the big reveal I had a better understanding of this but at times I’ll admit to being irritated by Catherine at first.

Him is a love story with a dark and tragic heart. It isn’t very often that I am moved by a book (I have an icy heart when reading!) but Him absolutely punched me in the guts and tore that icy heart right from my chest when I was least expecting it. I am stunned that this book is Claire Empson’s debut and I’m a little scared about what she’ll do with my emotions next time! All the stars for this stunning book.

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Blog Tour~She Lies In Wait by Gytha Lodge ~Ellen’s Review

Six friends. One killer. Who do you trust?

Seven friends went down to the woods, but one of them never came home.

30 years later, a body is discovered. DCI Sheens already knows what’s waiting for him – Aurora Jackson, found at last.

They all claim to be innocent, but one of them must be lying.

Because she was found somewhere only they knew about.

Now everyone’s a suspect.

Click the link below to grab your copy:

She Lies In Wait by Gytha Lodge

Ellen’s Review:

If you’re looking for the perfect police procedural novel then stop right there and go grab a copy of She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge.

The story is told over two timelines; in the present with the discovery of Aurora Jackson’s body in the woods and thirty years earlier where Aurora, her sister and their friends are partying in the same location. Six teenagers entered the woods and only five left alive the following morning. DCI Jonah Sheen is in charge of the investigation but is holding back information of his own. As a fresh faced copper he was involved in the original investigation and he appears to know more about the group of friends than he is letting on.
This is a book where I was suspicious of everyone as they all had secrets to hide. Drugs, alcohol, sex – the six teenagers entered the woods on the promise of having a good time so what could possibly go wrong?

In the present they have just as much to lose. Having closed ranks to everyone after Aurora went missing, the group are extremely tight knit and adamant that it wasn’t one of their own that had carried out the terrible attack and murder of 14 year old Aurora. Having two teenage daughters of my own (and having attended my own parties in the woods as a teen!) this book really got under my skin. The group of friends aren’t particularly likeable and I really felt sorry for Aurora as more is revealed throughout.


I really enjoyed She Lies in Wait and look forward to reading more in the DCI Jonah Sheen series.

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Blog Tour~New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color edited by Nisi Shawl

Hi everyone,

Today Ellen is taking part in the blog tour for New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color, a science fiction anthology edited by Nisi Shawl, and I’ll be sharing her review with you all a little further down.

About the book:

“There’s nothing new under the sun, but there are new suns,” proclaimed Octavia E. Butler.

New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color showcases emerging and seasoned writers of many races telling stories filled with shocking delights, powerful visions of the familiar made strange. Between this book’s covers burn tales of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and their indefinable overlappings. These are authors aware of our many possible pasts and futures, authors freed of stereotypes and clichés, ready to dazzle you with their daring genius. 

Unexpected brilliance shines forth from every page.

Includes stories by Kathleen Alcala, Minsoo Kang, Anil Menon, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Alex Jennings, Alberto Yanez, Steven Barnes, Jaymee Goh, Karin Lowachee, E. Lily Yu, Andrea Hairston, Tobias Buckell, Hiromi Goto, Rebecca Roanhorse, Indrapramit Das, Chinelo Onwualu and Darcie Little Badger.

Click the link below to order your copy:

New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color by Nisi Shawl

Ellen’s Review:

New Suns is a collection of 17 speculative fiction stories by authors of colour and whilst they didn’t all hit the spot for me there is definitely a lot to enjoy about this anthology and what didn’t work for me might be gold to another reader. I have been enjoying a break from thrillers and embracing my old reading loves of science fiction/horror and dystopian fiction recently so New Suns came along just at the right time. Any anthology is going to be like a pick & mix and the following were my absolute favourites:

Galactic Tourist Industrial Complex by Tobias S Buckell – this really reminded me of Men In Black with the humour element. Earth has become the home of intergalactic tourism but one small misunderstanding (or an alien off their face on recreational drugs) could result in  our annihilation.

The Fire Print by Chinelo Onwualu – A story about desire, paternal love and dodgy dealings with a Djinn!

The Freedom of The Shifting Sea by Jaymee Goh – a nautical tale featuring a sensuous sea worm (not a sentence I ever imagined saying!). This was more of an erotic horror story but I enjoyed the underlying love story. Just skip over the terrifying mandibles; she’s not known as The Bobbit Worm for nothing!

Three Variations on a Theme of Imperial Attire – a new spin (pardon the pun) on The Emperor’s New Clothes which I really enjoyed.

One Easy Trick by Hiromi Goto – easily the weirdest story featuring a woman who loses her belly fat in the woods. Literally loses it, so cute! I wish mine would go for a hike in the woods.

Kelsey and the Burdened Breath by Darcie Little Badger – My absolute favourite; it’s about a kind of ghost sheep dog who rounds up lost/rogue  souls. I could read a whole series about the characters in this short story.

These were the stories that struck a chord with me, made me think or made me laugh, I did enjoy others but these are the standouts in my opinion. I will definitely check out the authors and their other works.

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Blog Tour~A Body in the Lakes by Graham Smith ~Ellen’s Review

Hey guys,

Today, Ellen is taking part in the blog tour for A Body in the Lakes by Graham Smith and I’ll be sharing er review with you all a little further down this post.

About the author:


Graham Smith is the bestselling author of four explosive crime thrillers in the Jake Boulder series, Watching the Bodies, The Kindred Killers, Past Echoes and Die Cold. Watching the Bodies spent over two weeks at number one in the Amazon UK chart and Amazon CA charts. Graham is also the author of the popular DI Harry Evans series and has collections of short stories and novellas. His latest novel with Bookouture is set in Cumbria and the Lake District, featuring DC Beth Young.

He is the proud father of a young son. As a time-served joiner he has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since 2000 he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer for the well-respected review site Crimesquad.com since 2010.

When not working, his time is spent reading, writing and playing games with his son. He enjoys socialising and spending time with friends and family.

About the book:

The woman’s limbs were so thin; the skin on her arms as translucent as tracing paper. Around her neck lay a faint string of purple bruises. In one so frail, darker, angrier marks might be expected but Beth knew the bruising would have stopped the moment her heart stopped beating.

When a walker finds the body of a woman by the shores of Lake Ullswater, the police are put on high alert. Felicia Evans was known to be a tough character, but who would have strangled her?

Detective Beth Young quickly spots the links to three cold cases. Three women strangled and discarded in the stunning, wild hills of the Lake District.

As Beth begins tracking down witnesses, the team receives an anonymous letter claiming the charming mayor of Carlisle is behind the murders. There’s pressure from the top to clear his name. But Beth is determined to find the truth no matter whose feathers she ruffles in the process.

Beth knows the clock is ticking. The killer is hunting again. And it’s down toher to find who’s responsible before another woman becomes his prey…

A gripping edge-of-your-seat thriller from bestselling author Graham Smith, perfect for fans of Joy Ellis, LJ Ross, and J.R. Ellis. 

Click the link below to order your copy:

A Body In The Lakes by Graham Smith

Ellen’s Review:

We’re back with DC Beth Young in this second book of a new series. After having the main characters “fleshed out” in the first book it was great to get stuck straight in with the FMIT (force major investigation team) in A Body In The Lakes. 

A woman’s body is found by the shores of Ullswater Lake and someone is trying to pin her death on a prominent member of the community. With a little nudge in the right direction Beth Young soon spots a link to three cold cases. The team is under immense pressure once this information becomes public and all eyes are on Beth.

I was gripped by this book and had no idea who the killer was, as usual the author led me down the garden path and I was left feeling guilty for who I initially suspected. This is how much I’m drawn into Mr Smith’s worlds!

I hope Beth Young and her team have a long future ahead of them and I look forward to the next in the series. 


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Blog Tour~If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman~Ellen’s Review

Hi everyone,

Today Ellen is taking part in the blog tour for If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman, and I’ll be sharing her review with you all a little further down.

About the author:

IMG_8706.jpg

Hannah Beckerman is an author and journalist.

Her new novel, If Only I Could Tell You, will be published by Orion Books in February 2019, with a third novel coming in 2020. 

She is a freelance features writer and book critic for The Observer, the FT Weekend Magazine and The Sunday Express, a regular book pundit on the Sara Cox Show on BBC Radio 2, and regularly chairs panels, discussions and interviews at literary festivals and publishing events throughout the UK.

She has chaired numerous book prizes including the Costa Book Awards.

You can chat to Hannah on Twitter: @hannahbeckerman

Instagram: @hannahbeckermanauthor

Facebook: @hannahbeckermanauthor

About the book:

Audrey’s family has fallen apart. Her two grown-up daughters, Jess and Lily, are estranged, and her two teenage granddaughters have never been allowed to meet. A secret that echoes back thirty years has splintered the family in two, but is also the one thing keeping them connected.

As tensions reach breaking point, the irrevocable choice that one of them made all those years ago is about to surface. After years of secrets and silence, how can one broken family find their way back to each other?

You can order your copy by clicking the link below:

If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman

Ellen’s Review:

Before you start to read If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman I have a few words of advice: get yourself a comfy spot, bulk buy some tissues and maybe a bar of chocolate! Comfort is essential for this heart-breaking read. This is a book you will have to finish once you’ve started, I made the mistake of starting to read on my lunch break and was then desperate for my work day to be over so I could continue.

If only I Could Tell You deal with many issues, estrangement being one of them. Sisters Jess and Lily have not spoken since they were young when Jess saw something she shouldn’t have. We are not told what she has seen and the details are slowly revealed throughout the story. There are a lot of surprises along the way and circumstances that I was not expecting. Their mother Audrey has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and is desperate to reconcile her daughters before she passes away. I have two teenage daughters myself and the thought of them falling out to the extent that Jess and Lily does truly upset me, on top of this they both have teenage daughters themselves who are forbidden to meet. I really felt for Audrey and how she had to walk a fine line to please both of her daughters.

There is far more to this book than I have mentioned but to say much more would be spoilery! If Only is definitely one of the best books that I have read this year and my tear ducts were truly cleansed by the end of it. All the stars for the beautiful book!

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Blog Tour~The Taking of Annie Thorne by C. J. Tudor~Ellen’s Review

Hey guys,

Today, Ellen is taking part in the blog tour for The Taking of Annie Thorne by C. J. Tudor and I’l be sharing her review with you all just a little further down.

About the author:

C. J. Tudor

C. J. Tudor lives with her partner and young daughter. Her love of writing, especially the dark and macabre, started young. When her peers were reading Judy Blume, she was devouring Stephen King and James Herbert.

Over the years she has had a variety of jobs, including trainee reporter, radio scriptwriter, dog walker, voiceover artist, television presenter, copywriter and, now, author. 

Her first novel, The Chalk Man, was a Sunday Times bestseller and sold in thirty-nine territories.

About the book:

One night, Annie went missing.

Disappeared from her own bed. There were searches, appeals. Everyone thought the worst.

And then, after 48 hours, she came back.

But she couldn’t, or wouldn’t, say what had happened to her.

Something happened to my sister. I can’t explain what.

I just know that when she came back, she wasn’t the same.

She wasn’t my Annie.

I didn’t want to admit, even to myself, that sometimes I was scared to death of my own little sister.

The Taking of Annie Thorne by C. J. Tudor

Ellen’s Review:

I absolutely adored C. J. Tudor’s debut The Chalk Man and could not wait to read The Taking of Annie Thorne. I was not disappointed – this book was even better!!

The main character Joe Thorne returns to his home town of Arnhill in Nottinghamshire (an old colliery town). Now a teacher with some bad debts from gambling and nasty sorts after him, Joe is no-ones idea of a hero. Arnhill is a typical Northern mining village (and I was born and raised in one so can say this), a small community filled with small minded people. Although Joe lived there he is still seen as an outsider and people are suspicious of his agenda, the fact that he is renting a house where a murder/suicide took place recently does not help his image. The events of the house seem linked to Joe’s past; his younger sister went missing and came back 48 hours later…different. A mother had lived in the house Joe is renting with her young son and inexplicably murdered him then killed herself, above his bed she had written NOT MY SON.

As a teenager Joe was involved in a local gang who revelled in making the local misfits/different kids lives a misery. The episodes of bullying are not an easy read and there is a certain scene which really gave me the shivers! Their actions lead them to a life changing event which will have repercussions for everyone involved.

The Taking of Annie Thorne is definitely more of a horror than a thriller and I loved the supernatural element. Creepy kids, terrifying bugs and secrets that literally refuse to stay buried. C. J. Tudor has been compared to Stephen King and I would agree, I am definitely reminded of his earlier works. I reckon it’s about time we had a Queen of the horror genre and I’d happily hand C. J. Tudor the crown!

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Blog Tour~Changeling (Six Stories #3) by Matt Wesolowski~Ellen’s Review

Hi everyone,

So, today is Ellen’s stop on the blog tour for Changeling by Matt Wesolowski and I’ll be sharing her review with you all just a little further down this post!

About the author:

Matt Wesolowski.jpeg

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is
an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in
horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- an
US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie Creature, Selfies from the End
of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror
story set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a
winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing
Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was an Amazon bestseller in the
USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WH Smith Fresh Talent pick, and TV
rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio. A prequel, Hydra, was published
in 2018 and became an international bestseller.

About the book:

Changeling.jpg

On Christmas Eve in 1988, seven-year-old Alfie Marsden vanished
in the dark Wentshire Forest Pass, when his father, Sorrel, stopped
the car to investigate a mysterious knocking sound. No trace of
the child, nor his remains, have ever been found. Alfie Marsden
was declared officially dead in 1995.
Elusive online journalist, Scott King, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts
have become an internet sensation, investigates the disappearance,
interviewing six witnesses, including Sorrel and his ex-partner, to try to find out what really happened
that fateful night. Journeying through the trees of the Wentshire Forest – a place synonymous with
strange sightings, and tales of hidden folk who dwell there, he talks to a company that tried and failed
to build a development in the forest, and a psychic who claims to know what happened to the little
boy…

Published by Orenda Books, click the link below to order your copy:

Changeling (Six Stories #3) by Matt Wesolowski

Ellen’s Review:

Matt Wesolowski is a genius. End of.

That’s how I suggested a blogger wrote their review of Changeling because it’s true and the simplest way of reviewing such a book full of complex ideas and feelings! Obviously that wouldn’t be fair to the author, his books deserve all the praise they get so I’ll try to sum up how much I loved it.

Changeling is book three in the Six Stories series and having loved the previous two (Six Stories and Hydra) I couldn’t wait to get stuck in. Always with a sense of trepidation though as the author has a way of tapping into your deepest darkest fears and dialling the tension to the maximum. Had anyone knocked at my door at certain points in this book I would have filled my pants!

As a child one of my favourite books was a huge tome of folklore, myths & legends. A beautiful cloth bound book with an image of The Green Man on the front; I was obsessed (as only a child can be) with fairies, witches, wood sprites, nymphs and curses and convinced myself I was a changeling. Hey, I grew up into a (reasonably) well adjusted individual so all’s well considering! The story in Changeling revolves around the paranormal happenings in Wentshire Forest and the disappearance of Alfie Marsden. Alfie is travelling with his father Sorrel when he vanishes into thin air, he is never seen again and no body has ever been found. Scott King (presenter of the Six Stories podcast) receives a mysterious note regarding the case thirty years later and cannot resist investigating.

As with Six Stories and Hydra the tale is told as a podcast, this is such an ingenoius method of story telling and it works so well. We are drip fed information from various people that were involved in the case and slowly the picture becomes clearer, I challenge you to predict that ending though. My jaw is still sore from dropping on the floor!

Matt Wesolowski has such a talent for presenting a story as horror/supernatural but then totally flipping the genre as you progress through the tale. It is evident from his writing that Matt works with children in care; all his books provide a social commentary on the current issues our children face on a daily basis. Bullying, peer pressure and parental separation feature in all three and what could be more horrific to any child (and indeed adult) than that…?

It should be no surprise that I’ve given Changeling five stars and I’m really interested to see what is next from Matt.

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