Friday, 17 November 2017

Blog Tour - the Deaths of December by Susi Holliday

Today I am delighted to be hosting a guest post by Susi Holliday, author of the Deaths of December, talking about how her research started for the novel. The Deaths of December was released yesterday.

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Back cover blurb: When an advent calendar is delivered to the police station, no one takes any notice, until they open it to find a murder behind every door. Santa’s not the only one in red this Christmas . . . It looks like a regular advent calendar. Until DC Becky Greene starts opening doors...and discovers a crime scene behind almost every one. The police hope it's a prank. Because if it isn't, a murderer has just surfaced - someone who's been killing for twenty years. But why now? And why has he sent it to this police station? As the country relaxes into festive cheer, Greene and DS Eddie Carmine must race against time to catch the killer. Because there are four doors left, and four murders will fill them... Have yourself a deadly little Christmas.


How it Started – Christmas Research

Luckily, I started planning and outlining this book late last year, so there was plenty of opportunity to absorb what was going on in the run-up to Christmas. I spent a day in Kingston, where there was already a Christmas Street market taking place, complete with the smell of onions from the burger stalls mixed with the steamy spices from the mulled wine hut. 

There were buskers being drowned out by Christmas music drifting from shops and stalls, there were bible enthusiasts. There were harassed looking people with shopping bags . . . and it was still only November! 

Anyway, it worked out well for me as I was able to snap some pictures and take some notes because I knew I would forget how it all felt come January, when everyone was shuffling around the grey cold days looking miserable!

After that, it was mainly online research – I started off with Christmas folklore, and was disappointed that most of the truly creepy stuff happens in every country except the UK – before moving onto the more gritty stuff – the psychology of serial killers, how detectives work across different forces, how to develop 35mm camera film . . . 

As usual, I found out too much about everything, getting absorbed into one thing then another, and of course most of the research doesn’t even get a mention in the book. But it was fun. And immersing myself in the Christmas streets really helped when it came to be that I was still writing the book at Easter, and was finding myself very confused. 

I got around it by burning scented Christmas candles, and partaking in regular Chocolate Oranges. 

All in the name of research, of course.

Don't forget to check out the rest of the blog tour:


Check out my review here.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Review - The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release date: 17 October 2017
Rating: *** and a half
Back cover blurb: She has the perfect life. But not for long… How far would you go to make all your dreams come true? Amber Patterson is tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who melts into the background. She deserves more. She deserves a life of wealth, luxury and leisure. Daphne Parrish is golden girl of the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut. With her modelesque looks, her picture-perfect mansion and her millionaire husband, Jackson, she has everything Amber has ever wanted. Amber’s envy could eat her alive—if she didn't have a plan. Gradually, Amber insinuates herself into the Parrish family’s life. Before long, she has become Daphne’s closest confidante, and is catching the eye of Jackson. But a skeleton from her past could undermine everything Amber has worked for, and if discovered, her well-laid plan may end in disaster…




Amber Patterson watches Daphne Parrish in the gym everyday. Some might say she wants to be Daphne Parrish, or that she wants Daphne Parrish's life. Whilst both of those things may be true, Amber wants not to be Daphne Parrish, per see, but she definitely wants to be Mrs. Parrish.

Amber wants Daphne's husband, Jackson Parrish, and she won't stop until she gets him.

Amber is clever, comes across a sweet girl, perhaps a little naive. She ingrains herself into the Parrish's life quickly, becoming best friend and confidant to Daphne, and a welcome distraction for Jackson.

She assists Daphne with the daily running of her charity and ensures that she is the only "friend" Daphne can truly rely on. Amber is no friend to Daphne...

With her sights firmly set on Jackson she goes out of her way to make him notice her, but so subtly that no one around them notices.

Soon enough the pair are embarking on an affair, but Amber knows she must be careful if she is to truly ensnare Jackson in the tangled web she weaves.

But Daphne Parrish is no fool, and she won't be taken by one for anybody. Amber may well have underestimated her rival, but is it too late for Daphne to save her marriage? And does she even want to?

Split into Daphne's and Amber's perspectives, the last Mrs. Parrish is a novel that will have you taking a sharp intake of breath at a certain point, because no matter what you thought was going to happen... you will still be suprised!

The Last Mrs. Parrish is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Review - The Deaths of December by Susi Holliday

The Deaths of December by Susi Holliday
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release date: 16 November 2017
Rating: *****
Back cover blurb: When an advent calendar is delivered to the police station, no one takes any notice, until they open it to find a murder behind every door. Santa’s not the only one in red this Christmas . . . It looks like a regular advent calendar. Until DC Becky Greene starts opening doors...and discovers a crime scene behind almost every one. The police hope it's a prank. Because if it isn't, a murderer has just surfaced - someone who's been killing for twenty years. But why now? And why has he sent it to this police station? As the country relaxes into festive cheer, Greene and DS Eddie Carmine must race against time to catch the killer. Because there are four doors left, and four murders will fill them... Have yourself a deadly little Christmas.






DC Becky Greene and DS Eddie Carmine may just be my new favourite detectives. A world away from the Banktoun trilogy, the creepy, yet surprisingly festive Deaths of December may just be Susi’s finest novel so far.

'The Photographer' uses a 35mm camera, a nod to a dying art, or a clever way of attracting Police attention? 

It’s a question that must be answered when an old fashioned advent calendar (the type with pictures only - no chocolate!) is sent to the police station where Becky works. Behind each window is a gruesome crime scene.

Addressed 'to a detective who knows what to do', at first it appears to be a sick joke, someone from scenes of crime having a laugh. Because no one in their right mind would send detectives evidence of their crime scene. Would they?

Becky’s colleague DS Carmine, wonders if it could be connected to a recent as yet unsolved murder, one he’s been asked to stop working on, as one of the windows looks like a familiar scene. He wants to continue with the investigation regardless, seeking justice for the victim.

Relatively new to the team Becky is quickly partnered with Eddie after suggesting some possible avenues for consideration. Her mind is sharp, her interest piqued and enthusiasm at its highest. 

Perfect characteristics for a detective to solve a crime quickly. 

Unless you are looking for a serial murderer who is seemingly Mr. invisible... Leaving behind a trail of physical evidence like the photographs, but no clues about who they themselves might be.

DC Greene and DS Carmine must work quickly if they are to stop the advent killer before he strikes again. For there are empty windows on that advent calendar, and a killer who wants to fill them and get his Christmas off to a gruesome start.

The Deaths of December is available from 16 November 2017. 
You can pre-order it now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I'm delighted to be taking part in the official deaths of December blog tour that kicks off on 16th November;


Tuesday, 14 November 2017

[Blog Tour] Review - Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste NG

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste NG
Publisher: Little Brown
Release date: 9 November 2017
Rating: *****
Back cover blurb: Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down. In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned - from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principal is playing by the rules. Enter Mia Warren - an enigmatic artist and single mother- who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community. When the Richardsons' friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia's past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family - and Mia's.


Mia Warren is a single mother to Pearl, a struggling but acclaimed artist, a photographer, they have always gotten by with no help from the outside world. 

When they move to the idyllic community of Shaker Heights, Pearl is entranced by the new world she find herself in. 

Not only are all of her neighbours wealthy, but the first floor apartment in their rental house is the biggest space they have ever lived in together, and the first time her entire life that Pearl has not shared a bed with her Mother.

The Richardson’s who rent the Warrens the apartment have four children/teenagers; Lexie, Trip, Moody and Izzy. Although the Richardson’s are in another class entirely they are soon in awe of their bright and pretty new teenage classmate and neighbour, Pearl.

Pearl understands that she will never have a life entirely like the Richardson’s but it doesn’t stop her becoming friends with her new neighbours. Her Mother has promised her that they won’t leave this time, that Shaker Heights is now their home, but what Pearl cannot possibly know is that her Mother is always on the move to escape her troubled past

A chance conversation with a work colleague starts Mia on a campaign that divides the community she has been welcomed into. Unfortunately Mrs Richardson isn’t keen to take the same side as the Warren’s particularly as the controversy involves one of her oldest friends.

Mrs Richardson is used to her life being perfect in Shaker Heights and doesn’t welcome interference from outsiders, particularly involving her best friend. She doesn’t specifically set out to delve into Mia’s past - but a series of events lead her there. 

One questions whether perhaps she should take a second look at her own 'perfect' existence, before delving into the life’s of others...


Little Fires Everywhere is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Don't forget to check out the rest of today's blog tour hosts:


Thank You to the publishers who invited me to take part in this blog tour in exchange for an honest review.


Monday, 13 November 2017

Review - The Perfect Victim by Corrie Jackson

The Perfect Victim by Corrie Jackson
Publisher: Zaffre
Release date: 16 November 2017
Rating: *****
Back cover blurb: Husband, friend, colleague . . . killer? Charlie and Emily Swift are the Instagram-perfect couple: gorgeous, successful and in love. But then Charlie is named as the prime suspect in a gruesome murder and Emily's world falls apart. Desperate for answers, she turns to Charlie's troubled best friend, London Herald journalist, Sophie Kent. Sophie knows police have the wrong man - she trusts Charlie with her life. Then Charlie flees. Sophie puts her reputation on the line to clear his name. But as she's drawn deeper into Charlie and Emily's unravelling marriage, she realises that there is nothing perfect about the Swifts. As she begins to question Charlie's innocence, something happens that blows the investigation - and their friendship - apart. Now Sophie isn't just fighting for justice, she's fighting for her life.





Investigative crime reporter Sophie Kent should be taking it easy after the sudden unexpected death of her brother. But when she comes across a murder investigation in central London her reporters instincts immediately kick in, and she can't help herself.

Her boss at the London Herald is always hungry for the next big scoop, caring little about his employee's well being as is evident when he leans on Sophie to find out all she can about the dead woman being pulled from the Thames.

Sophie's colleague Charlie can usually be trusted to help her out when she's struggling and she knows that she will need all the help she can get with this particular story. Newspaper hacks and the Met Police aren't exactly the best of friends...

But Charlie Swift is nowhere to be found, his wife Emily unsure of his whereabouts and his junior at the paper news desk concerned about his recent behaviour. Sophie is concerned that he's not answering her calls. That's not normal Charlie behaviour. And then there are the seemingly implausible but undeniable links to the dead woman.

Was Charlie having an affair, or was there something even more sinister going on? 

Sophie can't believe that her oldest and most trusted reliable friend would be involved with any criminal activity or have an affair. But as more and more evidence comes to light, Sophie questions everything she thought she knew about Charlie, and the answers won't be easy to swallow.

The Perfect Victim is easily one of the best crime novels I've read this year, from the refreshing and unusual perspective of an investigative reporter with a top detectives mind. Just brilliant.

The Perfect Victim is available from 16 November 2017.
You can pre-order it now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Review - The way back to Florence by Glenn Haybittle

The way back to Florence by Glenn Haybittle
Publisher: Cheyne Walk
Release date: 6 July 2017
Rating: *** and a half
Back cover blurb: In 1937 Freddie (English), Isabella (Italian) and Oskar (a German Jew) become friends at an art school in Florence where they are taught by the dictatorial but magus-like Maestro and his sinister fascist assistant Fosco. When war arrives Freddie returns to England to become the pilot of a Lancaster bomber. Oskar, now a dancer, has moved to Paris where he escapes the 1942 roundup of Jews and arrives in Italy with his young daughter Esme. Isabella remains in Florence where she continues to paint. Until she is called upon by Maestro to forge an old master painting, apparently at the behest of the F├╝hrer himself, and as a result is seen as a Nazi collaborator by her neighbours. The murderous skies over Germany and a war-torn Italy in the grip of Nazi occupation provide the setting for this novel about the love of a separated husband and his wife and the love of a man for his young daughter. Freddie and Oskar both hope to find their way back to Florence. But Florence's heritage of preserving the identity and continuity of the past has never before been so under threat.
Isabella and Freddie are students at an art school in Italy when they meet, they fall in love and marry quickly but are torn apart by the war, for Freddie is English and must return to fight.

And fight he does as an RAF airman. 

I adored the descriptions of the nights that Freddie and his crew were flying in V Victor. 

Horrific though it must have been to take part, I imagine that there were many young men like Freddie all wanting to do their bit for the war effort and trying to keep both theirs and their comrades spirits high.

Isabella, lost without Freddie finds herself in an uncertain place, not knowing who to help, trust, offer shelter to or run away from...

She longs to be back with her husband, but letters are scarce and she doesn’t know if he’s dead or alive.

As the war rages on both Freddie and Isabella fear the worst as they hear nothing from each other. 

Can a war keep them together or will it tear them apart?

The way back to Florence is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.