Toys in the Dust by N.M. Brown | @normthewriter @Bloodhoundbook | #blogtour #guestpost #extract

It’s a real pleasure to welcome author N.M. Brown to the blog today to talk about what inspired him to write his latest book, Toys in the Dust! I’ll also be sharing a teaser but first, let’s see what his new book is all about.

Author : N.M. Brown
Title : Toys in the Dust
Series : Leighton Jones #3
Pages : 252
Publisher : Bloodhound Books
Publication date : March 20, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Two seven-year-old girls, Tina and Suzy, are playing in a dusty creek when a stranger appears and strikes up a conversation. He is sad that he doesn’t have a doll to play with like the girls do, so Suzy hurries home to fetch one. When she returns, Suzy discovers both Tina and the stranger have vanished. 

A short while later, traffic officer Leighton Jones, who is fighting his own demons, is driving home from the scene of a near-fatal accident. When Leighton sees a young girl race out in front of his car and vanish into the countryside, he reports the sighting. Unfortunately, his superiors, who are increasingly concerned about Leighton’s mental health, doubt the child exists. 

But after Tina’s mother confirms her daughter’s disappearance, Leighton risks his job by pursuing his own investigation of the case.

Meanwhile, in the Californian countryside, a child killer is relentlessly searching for the one who got away. 

Leighton has his work cut out. But can he prove his sanity and find Tina before the stranger does?

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Wordery

| EXTRACT |

The loss had broken him; as a man and a husband he had failed. His wife had drifted out of existence, and he felt that he had allowed it to happen. This left his daughter without a mother, and stuck with a dysfunctional father. And yet this single fact – his sole responsibility – made it necessary for him to somehow make things okay for Annie. If it had been his fault that things were bad, it was also his duty to put things right. That was his only means of redemption. Now, in the absence of anyone else to share the roles, Leighton stared through his windshield and figured he would have to commit to learning how to braid hair and paint nails, and make it through. 

It was then, when Leighton was caught up in his critique of his inadequate parenting that it happened.

The figure of what appeared to be a child, if that was what the apparition was, burst suddenly out of the tall grass at the side of the road and ran blindly across the road in front of his car. In that instant, Leighton saw nothing more than a momentary orange blur in the shape of a child – there for a moment, then gone. In instinctive response, he slammed on the brakes of his car. It skidded to a squealing halt on the hot road surface. The momentum threw him forward, his seatbelt digging painfully into one shoulder. Leighton let out a deep sigh, and his hands, still fastened on the wheel, began to tremble.

‘Jesus,’ he muttered.

Having managed to coax one hand off the wheel, Leighton switched on his hazard lights, and unclipped his seatbelt. He then opened the door and climbed out. The road and the surrounding area were so quiet he could hear the faint hushing sound of the restless surf, punctuated by the chirrup of bugs in the grass. Wandering around the car, Leighton peered into the long grass, door handle-high, at the side of his car. It had been less than a minute since the child had slipped into the grass, yet the area appeared undisturbed. Leighton took a cautious step into the dusty wilderness and called out across the parched landscape.

‘Hey, kid, are you okay? Is someone with you?’ Leighton’s deep voice carried on the warm air.

He waited for a moment, standing on the road, listening intently and staring out into the panorama of grass and trees stretching toward the rocky distant hills. 

‘Can you hear me, kid?’ he yelled, and held his hand up to shield his eyes from the low afternoon sun. 

There was no answer other than the slow ripple of the needle grass and the relentless creak and whirr of the hidden oblivious insects. Staring into the wilderness, Leighton wondered for a moment if he had somehow imagined the child.

| GUEST POST |

Toys in the Dust – inspiration 

Whilst researching the other Leighton Jones novels – both of which involve people disappearing, I spent much of my time listening to true crime podcasts. These programmes covered every situation from recent abductions to historical cold cases, many of which were utterly captivating. 

Listening to programmes such as Crawlspace or Generation Why, pulls me into a rabbit hole of theories, suspects and secrets. It is perhaps the greatest possible stimulus for Crime writers. 

Occasionally, I would encounter cases that were hard to shake off. There were a couple that were particularly haunting for me. The first involved one of the most famous cold case in the United States, involving a young girl who was abducted from outside her home on a snowy afternoon.

The second case involved a group of three children who vanished from an Australian beach in the late 1960s. At the time of the disappearance kids could wander freely around, but this case shocked the nation and changed the way in which people now parent. 

Both these cases seemed to stay with me until I knew that I had to write about a child being abducted, but somehow escaping and turning the tables on her abductor. So partly, the story was driven by my own personal need to make things right – at least in the fictional world.

I also wanted to write a paired down story, which revealed a less experienced cop stumbling through things personally and professionally.

Finally, much as my first novel The Girl on the Bus is full of hidden references to serial killers (Eddie G’s diner at the start is named after Ed Gein – the real life Norman Bates, etc) in Toys in the Dust there are numerous fairytale elements, but I’ll let the reader discover them, hopefully.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Norman! I think Leighton is the perfect person to (hopefully) find Tina.

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Norman has enjoyed writing for more than two decades. He has always considered a combination of decent fiction and good coffee as providing the best way to unwind and slip out of ordinary life for a while.

Having grown up Central Scotland, he studied English at Stirling University, where he began penning poetry, drama scripts and short stories. However, his real commitment to writing resulted from spending a snowy winter attending a series of fireside writing workshops in Perth.  

More recently, Norman’s love of crime fiction led him to create the weary detective Leighton Jones. Having based his debut novel around this character, Norman felt so intrigued by him that he decided to give Jones at least two more outings.

Aside from his family, Norman’s other passion is cooking, which may explain why culinary elements always seem to creep out of his kitchen and into his stories.

Get in touch with Norman via Twitter

This Week in Books (March 20)

Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

| LAST BOOK I FINISHED READING |

Caitlin Hendrix has been a Narcotics detective for six months when the killer at the heart of all her childhood nightmares reemerges: the Prophet. An UNSUB—what the FBI calls an unknown subject—the Prophet terrorized the Bay Area in the 1990s and nearly destroyed her father, the lead investigator on the case.

The Prophet’s cryptic messages and mind games drove Detective Mack Hendrix to the brink of madness, and Mack’s failure to solve the series of ritualized murders—eleven seemingly unconnected victims left with the ancient sign for Mercury etched into their flesh—was the final nail in the coffin for a once promising career.

Twenty years later, two bodies are found bearing the haunting signature of the Prophet. Caitlin Hendrix has never escaped the shadow of her father’s failure to protect their city. But now the ruthless madman is killing again and has set his sights on her, threatening to undermine the fragile barrier she rigidly maintains for her own protection, between relentless pursuit and dangerous obsession.

Determined to decipher his twisted messages and stop the carnage, Caitlin ignores her father’s warnings as she draws closer to the killer with each new gruesome murder. Is it a copycat, or can this really be the same Prophet who haunted her childhood? Will Caitlin avoid repeating her father’s mistakes and redeem her family name, or will chasing the Prophet drag her and everyone she loves into the depths of the abyss?

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

Emily and Josephine have always shared everything. They’re sisters, flatmates, and best friends. It’s the two of them against the world.

When Emily has the perfect wedding, and Josephine finds the perfect man, they know things will change forever. But nothing can prepare them for what, or who, one of them is willing to give up for love.

Four people. Three couples. Two sisters. One unforgivable betrayal.

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

Wilbrook in Western Australia is a sleepy, remote town that sits on the edge of miles and miles of unexplored wilderness. It is home to Police Sergeant Chandler Jenkins, who is proud to run the town’s small police station, a place used to dealing with domestic disputes and noise complaints.

All that changes on a scorching day when an injured man stumbles into Chandler’s station. He’s covered in dried blood. His name is Gabriel. He tells Chandler what he remembers.

He was drugged and driven to a cabin in the mountains and tied up in iron chains. The man who took him was called Heath. Heath told Gabriel he was going to be number 55. His 55th victim.

Heath is a serial killer.

As a manhunt is launched, a man who says he is Heath walks into the same station. He tells Chandler he was taken by a man named Gabriel. Gabriel told Heath he was going to be victim 55.

Gabriel is the serial killer.

Two suspects. Two identical stories. Which one is the truth?

55 has been high on my list ever since I saw it mentioned on twitter and I can’t wait to get to it! Really excited about my week’s reading.

What are you reading this week? Let me know! Happy reading! xx

A Body in the Lakes by Graham Smith | @GrahamSmith1972 @bookouture

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for A Body in the Lakes by Graham Smith! My thanks to Noelle Holten at Bookouture for the opportunity to join and for the review copy!

Author : Graham Smith
Title : A Body in the Lakes
Series : Detective Beth Young #2
Pages : 372
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : March 15, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

When a walker finds the body of a woman by the shores of Ullswater Lake, 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…

| MY THOUGHTS |

Goodness gracious me, this was quite the unsettling read. Particularly if you’re a woman. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I spent half the time with my legs firmly crossed, considering never leaving the safety of my house again!

When the naked body of a woman is found, it looks like detectives might just solve this case in a nanosecond. After all, everything points to the mayor. Pressure from the top demands the mayor’s name be cleared as soon as possible but Beth is determined to find out the truth. She quickly finds a connection to three old cases, where women were found raped, strangled and dumped.

The second instalment in the Beth Young series might not quite be for the faint-hearted. There are some grim and graphic descriptions but they really drive home what a monster this particular killer is. The search to find him is an intense race against the clock because it doesn’t take a detective to know they won’t stop until they are caught. Throughout the storyline, Graham Smith really brings to the fore how hard it is for victims of rape to bring their attackers to justice, how damaging any form of assault can be.

As for Beth, she remains one of those characters I can’t quite put my finger on. She’s determined, hugely passionate and not afraid to speak her mind even when told not to. While these are all qualities to admire, I just can’t seem to warm to her but I can’t for the life of me figure out why that is.

A Body in the Lakes is a gripping and compelling crime thriller. I couldn’t at all figure out who the culprit was and just when I thought it was all over, there’s a rather delicious and somewhat sad sting in the tail. True to form, Graham Smith manages to throw in an action sequence or two and allows the reader to get to know Beth just that little bit better. While this is the second in a series, I think you could possibly get away with treating it as a stand-alone but why not get caught up and then sit back and wait for book three!

A Body in the Lakes is available to buy! 

Amazon US | Amazon UK

| 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.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter

Mama’s Gone by Leopold Borstinski | @borstinski @damppebbles | #guestpost #damppebblestours

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Mama’s Gone by Leopold Borstinksi. My thanks to Emma Welton at damppebbles tours for the invitation to join. Today, author Leopold Borstinksi visits my blog to talk about which book he wishes he’d written and why. But first, here is what his own book is all about!

Author : Leopold Borstinski
Title : Mama’s Gone
Series : The Lagotti Family Series #4
Pages : 301
Publisher : Sobriety Press
Publication date : March 18, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

When the children grow up, the parents must die.

California gang leader Mary Lou has built a criminal empire while her adult children are desperate for their mother’s attention and love. 

As her mental faculties wane, Alice and Frank Jr must acknowledge their mother is not the woman she once was and that they need to step up and take the helm, despite the stark differences between them. 

But their sibling rivalry blinds both of them to their weaknesses which threatens the family when the Russian mob moves into the state. How can they fend off those attacks while fighting to decide who will lead the family now their dear Mama’s gone? 

Amazon US | Amazon UK

| GUEST POST |

For reasons I am not able to express, I was asked recently what book I wish had written and the honest answer is Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre because it is a work of total genius that changed the way I viewed the world. It is an existentialist work, but four years after I first read it I found out that Sartre had written the slender novel under the influence of mescaline. This explains a lot. But if you ask me which fiction book I most admire then hands down it is The Cold Six Thousand by James Ellroy. Why? Let me tell you…

This was the first Ellroy book I read and his particular prose style amazed me as much as it challenged me. The way that internal monologues sleep through every paragraph and the non-standard approach to language made it a very difficult first hundred pages, but the rewards were immense.

I was introduced to a cast of characters as vast and disparate as you could get. Given the reach of the story – covering the assassination of JFK and pushing toward the next Kennedy death – and the breadth of mob, politician and underworld criminal worlds depicted, it is nothing short of fabulous. At the time, I was a Joe Public book reader, but now I am a writer as well, I have a greater understanding of the complex hurdles Ellroy needed to surmount in order to deliver the book as published.

First of all, of course and I hope this doesn’t count as a spoiler, but we all know that JFK gets killed, so the central premise – will they or won’t they top the president – is null and void as something to generate tension. Anyone who has read The Day of The Jackal knows how hard it is to suspend your disbelief long enough to read a tale about famous historical events.

But I was gripped right up to the end. And there were sequels as well that kept me riveted too. One of the central conceits of the book is to meld real-life people with fictional folk. You wonder the extent to which Ellroy researched the Kennedy clan and those around them. I wanted it all to be true, real, genuine, but I know in my heart of hearts that this is not a documentary or even a dramatisation of actual events. This is fiction and the people with real names are as made up as the other characters.

And yet I still love the book. What’s the best bit about it? It’s size? From memory, my copy weighed in at about 800 pages – it was purchased at a time when an eBook was a typo and not the norm – it was about as thick as the Lord of the Rings, but it was a pure crime novel. Not a furry critter in sight.

Since then, I have devoured almost everything of Ellroy I can lay my hands on, but the Six Thousand remains my favourite. Perhaps because it was my first, but definitely because it is a juicy steak of a book. Oh and I lied: I do wish I’d written it, but I wanted to make myself seem clever in the opening paragraph.

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Leopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.

There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter

Weekly Wrap-Up (March 17)

What a miserable week it’s been. Storms raging all over the place bringing lots of high winds, hail and rain. At one point it looked like my garden pond may have flooded but that potential crisis was luckily avoided. I wasn’t quite looking forward to searching for fish in the grass. As it is, we had one casualty. Not a fish but my pretty bird bath, which toppled over and broke in two pieces. RIP bird bath. You will be missed.

Reading-wise, things are going pretty well. I probably could have squeezed in one more book if I hadn’t spent a few hours rearranging my bookshelves. Under duress, I might add. 😜. Now I can’t find anything. It’s all very fine to sort books alphabetically by author but when the only thing you remember is a title, …. 🙄😂

Anyway, let’s see which books went from the TBR shelf (downstairs) to the “read” shelf (upstairs) this week.

| BOOKS I READ THIS WEEK |

Sadly, The Dollmaker was another DNF at 72%. Netgalley has been letting me down lately. It’s probably not a bad thing I won’t be using it anymore soon due to my struggles with reading on a kindle. 😂

| BOOKS I BOUGHT THIS WEEK |

Oops. But! 🤣 Lizzie Borden was a preorder that arrived this week. And I already owned the Jo Spain books on Kindle so they don’t count, right? 😳

| ARC’s RECEIVED VIA NETGALLEY |

Nothing! I thought it would be hard to stay away from there but so far, it’s actually been a breeze.

| BOOK POST THAT LANDED ON MY DOORSTEP THIS WEEK |

Also, nothing. But I am expecting at least one goodie next week so it’s all good!

| ON THE BLOG THIS PAST WEEK |

Monday : Joined the blog tour for The Secret Child by Caroline Mitchell

Tuesday : Nothing

Wednesday : Hosted a stop on the blog tour for Only Daughter by Sarah A. Denzil and shared My Week in Books

Thursday : Shared my review for The Girl Next Door by Phoebe Morgan

Friday : Nada

Saturday : Zip

Sunday : Weekly Wrap-Up

Quiet week. Felt pretty good. We all know it won’t last though, right? 😂

| NEXT WEEK ON NOVEL DEELIGHTS |

Monday : I don’t have anything planned

Tuesday : Blog tour | Guest Post | Mama’s Gone by Leopold Borstinski

Wednesday : Blog tour | Review | A Body in the Lakes by Graham Smith

Thursday : Blog tour | Toys in the Dust by N.M. Brown. (I don’t know what I’m posting since I haven’t received it yet 🤣)

Friday : I don’t have anything written down

Saturday : Definitely taking the day off

Sunday : Weekly Wrap-Up

Another relatively quiet one. I could get used to this.

That’s it for another week. I have the whole day to myself and a pile of reviews to tackle. If I can stop procrastinating for long enough, I may even be able to finish my current book. Which, in case you wondered, is The Night Olivia Fell and it’s so good!

Wishing you all a fabulous week. Until next time! Happy reading! xx

The Girl Next Door by Phoebe Morgan | @Phoebe_A_Morgan @HQstories

Author : Phoebe Morgan
Title : The Girl Next Door
Pages : 384
Publisher : HQ
Publication date : February 21, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Perfect mother. Perfect wife. Jane Goodwin has spent years building her picture-perfect life in the quiet town of Ashdon.

So when the girl next door, sixteen-year-old Clare Edwards, is found murdered, Jane knows she must first protect her family.

Every marriage has a few white lies and hers is no exception. Jane’s worked hard to cover up her dark secret from all those years ago – and she’ll do anything to keep it hidden…

| MY THOUGHTS |

I thoroughly enjoyed Phoebe Morgan’s debut novel The Doll House when I read it last year but this one? Hoo boy! It’s on a completely different level and I absolutely loved it! From the very first pages, I could already tell I was in for a treat.

Have I mentioned yet how much I love small town settings? Life in the quiet town of Ashdon seems picture perfect. Nothing much ever happens here until the day sixteen year old Clare Edwards is found murdered. But even though we get a few flashbacks about Clare’s last day on the planet, this story isn’t really about her. It’s more about her neighbour, Jane. From the beginning, I sensed there was something off about her. Jane is very much about appearances and didn’t come across as particularly likeable. Yet it is also rather obvious that the mask she wears hides lies and secrets, making her instantly fascinating and intriguing.

At the heart of The Girl Next Door is quite a dark and disturbing topic. You just never know what goes on behind closed doors and this story is no different. So deliciously twisted and incredibly cleverly done, I found myself utterly engrossed. The pace was spot on and the storyline was so immensely compelling that I kept flipping the pages faster and faster.

Plenty of secrets and lies are to be discovered in Ashdon and of course, there is the death of Clare that needs solving. I thought I had this figured out, then kept changing my mind and ended up getting it entirely wrong. This is one of those books that lends itself perfectly to be read in one long reading session. It’s incredibly addictive and the few moments where I had to put the book down for pesky things like dinner, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Ultimately, this left me rather sad and angry at the injustice of it all but I loved every single word on every single page and I can’t wait to read more by Phoebe Morgan! I highly recommend The Girl Next Door and Phoebe Morgan is without a doubt one to watch!

The Girl Next Door is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

This Week in Books (March 13)

Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

| LAST BOOK I FINISHED READING |

Kat experiences every mother’s worst nightmare when her only child’s body is found lifeless in an overgrown, abandoned quarry. 

Desperate to find out what happened, Kat questions those closest to her as she tries to piece together the last days of Grace’s life. But as a darker side to her little girl begins to unravel, Kat wonders if she ever really knew Grace. 

As Kat is drawn into a twisted game of lies, is she also in terrible danger? And will she be able to unlock her daughter’s final shocking secret? 

Even if the truth is unthinkable… 

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

‘You shouldn’t be here. It’s too late… 

These, heard over the phone, were the last recorded words of successful celebrity-divorce lawyer Richard Pryce, found bludgeoned to death in his bachelor pad with a bottle of wine – a 1982 Chateau Lafite worth £3,000, to be precise.

Odd, considering he didn’t drink. Why this bottle? And why those words? And why was a three-digit number painted on the wall by the killer? And, most importantly, which of the man’s many, many enemies did the deed?

Baffled, the police are forced to bring in Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne and his sidekick, the author Anthony, who’s really getting rather good at this murder investigation business.

But as Hawthorne takes on the case with characteristic relish, it becomes clear that he, too, has secrets to hide. As our reluctant narrator becomes ever more embroiled in the case, he realises that these secrets must be exposed – even at the risk of death…

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

On a scorching July night in 1983, a group of teenagers goes camping in the forest. Bright and brilliant, they are destined for great things, and the youngest of the group—Aurora Jackson—is delighted to be allowed to tag along. The evening starts like any other—they drink, they dance, they fight, they kiss. Some of them slip off into the woods in pairs, others are left jealous and heartbroken. But by morning, Aurora has disappeared. Her friends claim that she was safe the last time they saw her, right before she went to sleep. An exhaustive investigation is launched, but no trace of the teenager is ever found.

Thirty years later, Aurora’s body is unearthed in a hideaway that only the six friends knew about, and Jonah Sheens is put in charge of solving the long-cold case. Back in 1983, as a young cop in their small town, he had known the teenagers—including Aurora—personally, even before taking part in the search. Now he’s determined to finally get to the truth of what happened that night. Sheens’s investigation brings the members of the camping party back to the forest, where they will be confronted once again with the events that left one of them dead, and all of them profoundly changed forever

I have no idea what this post is going to look like because WordPress is incredibly uncooperative lately and the preview doesn’t work. 🙄

Anyway! What are you reading this week? Anything I should keep my eye on? Let me know! Happy reading! xx

Only Daughter by Sarah A. Denzil | @sarahdenzil @bookouture

It’s a real pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for Only Daughter by Sarah A. Denzil! My thanks to the publisher for the review copy!

Author : Sarah A. Denzil
Title : Only Daughter
Pages : 341
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : March 13, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Kat experiences every mother’s worst nightmare when her only child’s body is found lifeless in an overgrown, abandoned quarry. 

Desperate to find out what happened, Kat questions those closest to her as she tries to piece together the last days of Grace’s life. But as a darker side to her little girl begins to unravel, Kat wonders if she ever really knew Grace. 

As Kat is drawn into a twisted game of lies, is she also in terrible danger? And will she be able to unlock her daughter’s final shocking secret? 

Even if the truth is unthinkable… 

| MY THOUGHTS |

When the body of Kat’s teenage daughter, Grace, is found in an abandoned quarry, police are quick to rule her death a suicide. After all, the quarry is a known suicide spot. But Kat refuses to believe her daughter would take her own life and is desperate to find out the truth about what happened to her. As she begins to piece together the last few days of her daughter’s life, Kat starts to realise she never really knew her daughter at all.

Only Daughter is an immensely gripping read. The kind you get stuck into and find yourself looking up from the pages hours later to find it’s gone dark outside and your cup of tea went cold ages ago. Despite Kat being one of those characters I couldn’t quite put my finger on, her search for the truth behind her daughter’s death was immensely engrossing. No matter how you feel about Kat, it isn’t hard to imagine that as a mother you never want to admit that you failed your child somehow, that it’s near impossible to accept that your child chose to leave this life behind and you’d do just about anything to find answers.

But Kat isn’t your typical mother. There’s a dark secret lurking in her past, one that is alluded to quite often but not revealed until later on. Kat doesn’t come from a particularly nice background and her journey to where she ended up now isn’t a conventional one. More than that though, she was once diagnosed as a sociopath and who even knows what they are capable of.

As to what really happened in the quarry, I had one aspect of it figured out but I couldn’t see the whole picture and there are plenty of twists and turns to go through before the reader gets to the reveal. Just like Kat, I ended up questioning everything and everyone. Especially when more and more things about her daughter are uncovered and you begin to wonder what kind of girl Grace actually was.

Only Daughter is a twisted tale of lies, deceit and revenge. A story that has a rather emotional beginning but soon turns into a tense and compelling psychological thriller. It is an utterly addictive page-turner so make you sure you have plenty of time to read when you tackle this one because you will not want to put it down!

Only Daughter is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Sarah A. Denzil is a suspense writer from Derbyshire, England. She is also known as young adult author Sarah Dalton.

Sarah lives in Yorkshire with her partner, enjoying the scenic countryside and rather unpredictable weather. 

She is the author of international bestselling psychological thriller SILENT CHILD, which topped the bestseller lists on Amazon in the US, UK and Australia.

The Secret Child by Caroline Mitchell | @Caroline_writes @midaspr @AmazonPub| #TheSecretChild #ThomasAndMercer

I’m kicking off the week with a stop on the blog tour for The Secret Child by Caroline Mitchell. My thanks to Agnes at Midas PR for the invitation to join and to Caroline Mitchell for the review copy!

Author : Caroline Mitchell
Title : The Secret Child
Series : DI Amy Winter #2
Pages : 336
Publisher : Thomas & Mercer
Publication date : March 7, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Four-year-old Ellen is snatched by a stranger in the dead of night. Her devastated mother, Nicole, receives four identical phials and a threatening note in a familiar scrawl that chills her to the bone. But she always knew this would happen. She’s been expecting it for years…

According to the note, one of the phials is poisoned. Nicole is given a deadly challenge: if she drinks one, the sadistic kidnapper will notify the police of Ellen’s location. The sender claims to be Luka Volkov but Luka is supposed to be dead, killed long ago in a fire that haunts all those involved.

DI Amy Winter is still reeling from the discovery that she is the daughter of a serial killer, and her childhood trauma only makes her more determined to bring Ellen home. When another child is taken, Amy finds herself in a race against time. To rescue the children, must she seek help from the one person she wants to forget…?

| MY THOUGHTS |

When four year old Ellen is kidnapped from her bedroom, it becomes clear quite early on her parents aren’t telling the police everything. This kidnapper is on a mission and Ellen was targeted for a reason. But what dark secrets are hiding in the past? Amy and her team find themselves in a race against time to find Ellen before it’s too late.

The Secret Child is the second instalment in the DI Amy Winter series and I felt it was even stronger than its predecessor. The storyline is pretty intense, helped by the fact I could never quite figure out what the kidnapper’s endgame was going to be. There are quite a few parallels throughout, between the kidnapper’s past and Amy’s. Hoping to find some common ground with the kidnapper, can Amy keep her past a secret though?

I must admit that Amy got on my nerves quite a bit this time around. It’s not surprising she has issues, obviously, and she’ll do whatever it takes to protect herself from getting hurt but some of the moments where she was lashing out angered me. I felt like grabbing her and shaking her and telling her to get a grip, focus on what’s what or who’s who. I quite enjoy it when a character can get to me like that though.

Speaking of characters that do that, the character calling himself Luka is one of those as well. Obviously I can’t give anything away but his background is so incredibly devastating, it’s hard not to feel for him. Even if the things he’s doing now are wrong, you understand why he’s doing them. It all begins in the eighties but those events have a lifelong impact on all those who were involved.

With a topic like childhood trauma and its effects, The Secret Child quickly becomes a tense, fascinating and gripping read. This isn’t just your average awesome crime thriller as there’s a remarkable depth and psychology to it that adds that little bit extra. It had me hooked from start to finish and I can’t wait to see where Caroline Mitchell takes this series next.

The Secret Child is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Caroline originates from Ireland and now lives with her family in a pretty village on the coast of Essex.

A former police detective, Caroline has worked in CID and specialised in roles dealing with vulnerable victims, high-risk victims of domestic abuse, and serious sexual offences.

She now writes full time.

Weekly Wrap-Up (March 10)

Once upon a time there was a week in March and then it was gone. There were a lot of dark days, lots of rain and high winds. Twas also not a productive one, yet full of books and some delightful procrastinating courtesy of Netflix. I binge-watched Harlan Coben’s Safe, which is brilliant, and also took the advice of a fellow blogger (thank you, Jacob) and finally started watching The Crown.

Reading-wise, my week was all over the place. A few misses, a few “meh” and a few corkers. Let’s see what I read this week.

| BOOKS I READ THIS WEEK |

This is not as impressive as it looks. Two of those (Until The Day I Die and Closer Than You Think) were DNF’s and will not be reviewed on the blog. I blame me and not the books. I’m in a mood and I need books that start with a bang and grab me by the collar and not let go. When I find I start thinking of other things I could be doing, it’s time to move on to another book.

| BOOKS I BOUGHT THIS WEEK |

Technically, none. I did pre-order the three below but pre-orders don’t count, right? 🤔

| ARC’s RECEIVED VIA NETGALLEY |

None! I’ve only visited there to drop off some reviews and that’s it. I’m increasingly struggling with reading on Kindle lately so my Netgalley days might just be over.

| BOOK POST THAT LANDED ON MY DOORSTEP THIS WEEK |

Excited doesn’t even begin to cover it! Huge thanks to Bonnier Zaffre, Michale Joseph, Avon UK and Headline!

| ON THE BLOG THIS PAST WEEK |

Monday : Reviewed The Shape of Lies by Rachel Abbott

Tuesday : Posted my review for Looker by Laura Sims

Wednesday : This Week in Books which I didn’t stick to 😭

Thursday : Shared my review of Now You See Her by Heidi Perks for paperback publication day celebrations.

Friday : Shared an extract on my stop on the blog tour for The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay

Saturday : Joined the blog tour for Punch by Kate North with a guest post.

Sunday : Weekly Wrap-Up

| NEXT WEEK ON NOVEL DEELIGHTS |

Monday : Blog tour | Review | The Secret Child by Caroline Mitchell

Tuesday : I don’t know yet

Wednesday : Blog tour | Review | Only Daughter by Sarah A. Denzil

Thursday : Maybe nothing

Friday : Not a clue

Saturday : Might take today off

Sunday : Weekly Wrap-Up

Look at that empty schedule! I’m part proud of myself for cutting down and part completely panicking because I’m worried I forgot to write something down 😂

Question of the week : Prompted by my two DNF’s this week, how do you feel about not finishing a book? When do you decide to just admit defeat and move on to something else? Do you have a specific cut-off point, like 100 pages or 20%? On a scale of one to ten, how bad do you feel about not finishing a book? Is there a difference between not finishing a book you’ve bought, received via Netgalley or a publisher? What are the odds you’ll pick this book you’ve not finished up again in future and give it another go?

That’s it for another week. Hopefully next week the sun will be out and the glorious blue skies will return to lift our moods. Wishing you all a fabulous week! Happy reading! xx