blog tour · book review · comedy · crime · Nordic

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Rabbit Factor

An insurance mathematician’s carefully ordered life is turned on its head when he unexpectedly loses his job and inherits an adventure park … with a whole host of problems. A quirky, tense and warmly funny thriller from award-winning Finnish author Antti Tuomainen.

What makes life perfect? Insurance mathematician Henri Koskinen knows the answer because he calculates everything down to the very last decimal.

And then, for the first time, Henri is faced with the incalculable. After suddenly losing his job, Henri inherits an adventure park from his brother – its peculiar employees and troubling financial problems included. The worst of the financial issues appear to originate from big loans taken from criminal quarters … and some dangerous men are very keen to get their money back.

But what Henri really can’t compute is love. In the adventure park, Henri crosses paths with Laura, an artist with a chequered past, and a joie de vivre and erratic lifestyle that bewilders him. As the criminals go to extreme lengths to collect their debts and as Henri’s relationship with Laura deepens, he finds himself faced with situations and emotions that simply cannot be pinned down on his spreadsheets…

Warmly funny, rich with quirky characters and absurd situations, The Rabbit Factor is a triumph of a dark thriller, its tension matched only by its ability to make us rejoice in the beauty and random nature of life.

“It contains all the main elements of a dark crime/comedy mixed with a peculiar love story that is destined to move and engage the audience. Fans of the Finnish author’s previous work should definitely read this one and the same goes to all those who love quirky crime novels with unique characterization. I will be eagerly waiting for the second installment in the series.” Tap the Line

“Full of refreshing wit and wisdom, this comic departure from the usual Scandi noir is a treat.” — Publishers Weekly starred review

‘Laconic, thrilling and warmly human. In these uncertain times, what better hero than an actuary?’ —Chris Brookmyre

‘The funniest writer in Europe, and one of the very finest. There is a beautiful rhythm and poetry to the prose … original and brilliant story-telling’ —Helen FitzGerald

You don’t expect to laugh when you’re reading about terrible crimes, but that’s what you’ll do when you pick up one of Tuomainen’s decidedly quirky thrillers’ —New York Times

The Rabbit Factor is a triumph, a joyous, feel-good antidote to troubled times‘ —Kevin Wignall

The Rabbit Factor is an astounding read. It has the suspenseful twists of a thriller, the laugh-out-loud moments of a comedy and a tragic dimension that brings a tear to the eye’ —Crime Fiction Lover

‘Antti Tuomainen turns the clichéd idea of dour, humourless Scandi noir upside down with The Rabbit Factor. Dark, gripping and hilarious … Tuomainen is the Carl Hiaasen of the fjords‘ —Martyn Waites

‘British readers might think they know what to expect from Nordic noir: a tortured detective, a bleak setting, a brutal crime that shakes a small community. Finnish crime novelist Tuomainen turns all of this on its head … The ear of a giant plastic rabbit becomes a key weapon. It only gets darker and funnier’ —Guardian

‘The antic novels of Antti Tuomainen prove that comedy is not lost in translation … Tuomainen, like Carl Hiaasen before him, has the knack of combining slapstick with genuine emotion‘ —The Times

About the author & translator

Finnish Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author in 2013, the Finnish press crowned Tuomainen the ‘King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen was one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and his poignant, dark and hilarious The Man Who Died became an international bestseller, shortlisting for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards. Palm Beach Finland was an immense success, with Marcel Berlins (The Times) calling Tuomainen ‘the funniest writer in Europe’. Little Siberia (2020), was shortlisted for the CWA International Dagger, the Amazon Publishing/Capital Crime Awards and the CrimeFest Last Laugh Award, and won the Petrona Award for Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year. The Rabbit Factor (2021), the first book in Antti’s first ever series, is in production by Amazon Studios with Steve Carell starring. The Moose Paradox, book two in the series is out in 2022.

David Hackston is a British Translator of Finnish and Swedish literature and drama. Notable publications include The Dedalus Book of Finnish Fantasy, Maria Peura’s coming-of-age novel At the Edge of Light, Johanna Sinisalo’s eco-thriller Birdbrain, two crime novels by Matti Joensuu and Kati Hiekkapelto’s Anna Fekete series (which currently includes The HummingbirdThe Defenceless and The Exiled, all published by Orenda Books). He also translates Antti Tuomainen’s stories. In 2007 he was awarded the Finnish State Prize for Translation. David is also a professional countertenor and a founding member of the English Vocal Consort of Helsinki. Follow David on Twitter @Countertenorist

My Review

Hmm, how to define this: to say it’s not your typical Nordic crim novel would be a massive understatement. I don’t generally find much to laugh about in such novels, but The Rabbit Factor is funny, quirky, heart-warming and a crime novel.

Henri Koskinen is the most unlikely man to run an adventure park (not an amusement park, as he will tell you frequently), he’s even less likely to kill someone. He’s an actuary! A numbers man. Not a killer. And you probably wouldn’t expect a romantic encounter either … so, be warned – nothing here is as it seems at first glance!

The story starts with Henri “quitting” his job because he cannot live with all the team-building and jargon-busting changes brought in by his boss. Faced with a choice of sitting in a basement office, poring over old accounts, or being more of a team player, he quits. The laws of probability comfort him, he’s certain he’ll find a new job within days.

And he does, just not in insurance. A lawyer advises him of his brother’s death and the inheritance of YouMeFun, an expansive adventure park. With no other plans holding him back, Henri visits the park and meets the staff – a motley crew of individuals who keep the park ticking over, and they’re not doing a bad job as visitor numbers prove. So why does the park have so many debts? What was his brother involved in? Henri’s questions are answered when two men (thugs) visit the park to inform him of his brother’s substantial debts, debts which they say have now passed to him.

As you might expect, Henri is not too happy about this, nor about the consequences of not paying. His only option is to devise a way to repay the money – hey presto, Mr Actuary comes up with a money laundering plan that should in theory pay the debts and enable him to keep the park going. You see, he’s grown rather fond of the park, and of one staff member in particular.

The plan is launched and the waiting game for the payoff begins … Henri’s new life couldn’t be farther removed from his old one. But does it pay the dividends expected of it? Can Henri truly fit into this new lifestyle, dodging gangster-type thugs and following his brother’s wish to keep the park business afloat? Well, that would be telling … as there is way more involved that Henri could possibly have calculated, suggesting there is more to life than the numbers in his spreadsheet.

The story is engaging, amusing, awkward and complex – an original crime novel from start to finish. Highly recommended.

PS – the translation is amazing, seamless, and effortlessly easy to read without losing any of the author’s voice.

As always,

blog tour · book review · journalist · thriller · war

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Shot

An aspiring TV journalist faces a shattering moral dilemma and the prospect of losing her career and her life, when she joins an impetuous photographer in the Middle East. A shocking, searingly authentic thriller by award-winning ex-CNN news executive Sarah Sultoon.

Samira is an up-and-coming TV journalist, working the nightshift at a major news channel and yearning for greater things. So when she’s offered a trip to the Middle East, with Kris, the station’s brilliant but impetuous star photographer, she leaps at the chance

In the field together, Sami and Kris feel invincible, shining a light into the darkest of corners … except the newsroom, and the rest of the world, doesn’t seem to care as much as they do. Until Kris takes the photograph.

With a single image of young Sudanese mother, injured in a raid on her camp, Sami and the genocide in Darfur are catapulted into the limelight. But everything is not as it seems, and the shots taken by Kris reveal something deeper and much darker … something that puts not only their careers but their lives in mortal danger.

Sarah Sultoon brings all her experience as a CNN news executive to bear on this shocking, searingly authentic thriller, which asks immense questions about the world we live in. You’ll never look at a news report in the same way again…  

My Review

Samira (Sami) has issues with her dad – he was a photographer in war zones and died on the job. Her mum hasn’t been the same since, and she and Sami are no longer close. Sami wants to prove herself to her mum and to make sense of her dad’s death, so when the chance comes to accompany one of the team’s most experienced photographers she cannot quell her excitement. This is her chance to break away from the night shift of graphic design for the international news organisation in London and see for herself the true horrors of war. Sami’s need to prove herself, and her family connection form her personal motivation, yet it is her ability to speak Arabic that marks her out to her bosses as a valuable asset – and, besides, it’s just a quick in-and-out visit to capture the visit of US dignitaries to the region. However, Sami has something more to offer, a human touch and the ability to seek out a story on behalf of those without a voice, those who are suffering as the pawns of war. Sami wants to tell it as it is and speak up for those people.

Kris, the photographer, is more than intriguing. His home life is in tatters as he chooses to work rather than spend time with his wife and kids; only the dog seems to be pleased to see him when he does venture home. On the job, he can be blunt and brash, but he has an eye for detail and can zoom in to capture the poignancy of a situation like no other.

As you’d expect, any story set in such an environment is going to portray the devastation of war, and its brutal repercussions on the civilians caught in its wake. Consequently, readers can expect an emotional roller coaster and some exceptionally stark reactions. The ending is shocking and you’re left to determine for yourself whether some deaths were mercy killings or something more sinister. (You’ll have to read for yourself to find out what I mean).

The Shot is a story that will stay with me, it gives fascinating insight into war reporting, the horrors and the impact on those reporting the news and is all the more impactful given the situation in Ukraine. As viewers, we see journalists giving their reports against the backdrop of sirens and burning buildings, we see civilians fleeing – if they can – and others injured or killed. Sami’s story obliges us to see the human effect, to uphold humanitarian values and see the people behind the headlines. A powerful read indeed.

About Sarah Sultoon

Sarah Sultoon is a novelist and journalist, whose prior work as an international news executive at CNN has taken her all over the world, from the seats of power in both Westminster and Washington to the frontlines of Iraq and Afghanistan. She has extensive experience in conflict zones, winning three Peabody awards for her work on the war in Syria, an Emmy for her contribution to the coverage of Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, and a number of Royal Television Society gongs. As passionate about fiction as nonfiction, she recently completed a Masters of Studies in Creative Writing at the University of Cambridge, adding to an undergraduate degree in languages, chosen mainly so she could spend time itinerantly travelling the world. She likes running, Indian food, cocktails, playing sport with her children and throwing a ball for her dog, order dependent on when the cocktails are consumed. The Source is her first novel and is currently in development for television with Lime Pictures.

The Source

‘A brave and thought-provoking debut novel. Sarah Sultoon tackles a challenging and disturbing subject without sensation, and her sensitive handling, tight plotting and authentic storytelling make for a compelling read’ Adam Hamdy

‘Delving into corruption, abuse of power and the resilience of the human spirit, The Source is a taut and thought-provoking book that’s all the more unnerving for how much it echoes the headlines in real life’ CultureFly

‘Carly and Marie’s stories are about to collide, the secrets of the past are devastating, the investigation in the present urgent. This is a tense thriller, a remarkable debut, heartbreaking, but ultimately this is a story of resilience and survival’ New Books Magazine

‘A powerful, compelling read that doesn’t shy away from some upsetting truths … written with such energy’ Fanny Blake

‘Tautly written and compelling, not afraid to shine a spotlight on the darker forces at work in society’ Rupert Wallis

‘So authentic and exhilarating … breathtaking pace and relentless ingenuity’ Nick Paton Walsh, CNN

‘A powerful, intense whammy of a debut that is both uncomfortable and exhilarating to read … Thought-provoking, tense, and expressive, The Source is an utterly compelling debut’ LoveReading

‘A gripping, dark thriller’ Geoff Hill, ITV

‘A cleverly constructed story that offers an authentic view behind the scenes in a British newsroom … an original and wholly engaging debut. Definitely a name to watch’ Crime Fiction Lover

‘My heart was racing … fiction to thrill even the most hard-core adrenaline junkies’ Diana Magnay, Sky News 

‘Unflinching and sharply observed. A hard-hitting, deftly woven debut’ Ruth Field

‘With this gripping, fast-paced debut thriller, it’s easy to see what made Sultoon such a great journalist’ Clarissa Ward, CNN 

‘A hard-hitting, myth-busting rollercoaster of a debut’ Eve Smith

‘I could picture and feel each scene, all the fear, tension and hope’ Katie Allen

As always,

blog tour · book review · cosy · crime · mystery · series

Blog tour ‘n’ Book Review – Murder at the Summer Fete

Murder At The Summer Fete

A fete worse than death…

After finding the killer of Lucy Roth six months ago, life has settled back to normal for bookshop owner, Nancy Hunter, and her grandmother, Jane. The annual Dedley End village fete is just around the corner, and Nancy is delighted when bestselling author, Thomas Green, agrees to launch his first new novel in ten years there.

But then a series of sinister events lead Nancy to realise someone is trying to sabotage their fete, so she, along with Jane and their journalist friend Jonathan, must turn detective to discover who isn’t at all thrilled about the return of Thomas Green.

When a body is discovered at the summer fete, the death scene mirroring that in Thomas’ latest bestseller, they realise that there’s another killer in Dedley End, but can they outsmart someone who appears to have pulled off the perfect crime?

The clues are right under Nancy and Jane’s noses, if only they can find them. Because the answers to life’s questions can always be found in a book…!

A twisty, unputdownable cozy mystery that fans of Richard Osman, S.J. Bennett and The Marlow Murder Club will love.

Purchase Links

AMZ: https://amzn.to/3HE7928

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3JLSUtX

Apple: https://apple.co/3zDUyte

Author Bio

Victoria Walters writes up-lifting and inspiring stories. She’s the author of the bestselling GLENDALE HALL series, which continues with its third book HOPEFUL HEARTS at GLENDALE HALL in September, as well as two other standalone novels – SUMMER at the KINDNESS CAFE, and THE SECOND LOVE of my LIFE. She has been chosen for WHSmith Fresh Talent and shortlisted for two RNA awards. Victoria was also picked as an Amazon Rising Star, and her books have won wide reader acclaim.

Victoria is a full-time author. She lives in Surrey with her cat Harry, and loves books, clothes, music, going out for tea and cake, and posting photos on Instagram.

Find out more about Victoria by following on Instagram at @vickyjwalters, on Twitter at @Vicky_Walters or by visiting her blog at:https://victoria-writes.com/

My Review

It was wonderful to return to Dedley End and the bookshop run by Nancy and her grandmother, Jane. Since last we met, after the murder up at the house on the hill, life in the village has returned to its normal tranquillity. In fact, for both Nancy and Jane, things are a little too quiet which is why they have invested so much time and effort into the upcoming summer fete. Having arranged for a very successful crime writer to launch his latest book at the fete, the level of excitement and anticipation is high. Author Thomas Green grew up in a nearby village before getting an agent and a book deal in London.

What Nancy and Jane, and best friend Jonathan don’t realise is that Thomas Green’s return will not be so widely welcomed, especially among those who knew him in his younger days. Green is reluctant to talk about those days too, which begs the question why.

It takes an act of “vandalism” and threats to spark the sleuths’ interest in Green’s background, but not even they are ready to see another case of murder in Dedley End.

As before, the relationship between the main characters is endearing as are their endeavours to get to the bottom of things. At the outset I thought I knew the motive for the murder but the case almost seemed to be resolved … until Nancy feels the same sense of unease at justice not really having been done and so, encouraged by Jane and Jonathan, she digs further … and finds the real reason behind it. I’m glad to say my initial deductions were correct, and I applaud the author for making me second guess myself. The twisty nature of solving the crime was most enjoyable (and not just because I was proved right 🙂 )

The author picks up the trail of information we learned in book one about the culprit behind Nancy’s father’s death and now the story takes another personal twist in delivery Nancy another mystery, this time to do with her mother who left the family home when Nancy was very young. The author combines well Nancy’s personal family history with mysteries in Dedley End and that combination makes for an interesting, yet fun read, but also leaves me wanting more.

I’ll be looking out for the next book in the series.

For more news and reviews,

As always,

blog tour · book review · humour · Regency Romance · romance · romantic comedy

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – A Wedding at the Jane Austen Dating Agency

A modern-day matchmaker’s happily-ever-after bubble is about to burst in the second novel in this charming series of love and all its misadventures.
 
Sophie Johnson appears to be living the perfect life. She has landed her dream job as managing director of The Jane Austen Dating Agency and is dating the world’s most desirable man, Darcy Drummond.
 
But all is not as it seems. The relationship with Darcy is failing to live up to expectations and his awful mother is determined to cause trouble. To add to Sophie’s problems, the agency is struggling to attract enough eligible men, she has a Regency wedding to plan, and then there’s the amusing and disturbingly cute Henry Baxter who is making it hard for her to concentrate.
 
The problem is Sophie wants it all, but in trying to manage everything, she’s in danger of losing what matters most.
 
Can she keep the dating agency afloat and find her own happy ever after? Or is business and romance an impossible combination?

Praise for The Jane Austen Dating Agency
“There were some wonderful surprises . . . Those, particularly Janeites, who enjoy light women’s fiction blended with romantic comedy would be the target group for this one.” —Austenprose
 
“The Jane Austen Dating Agency may resemble the stories of both Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility at times but Fiona Woodifield has done a remarkable job of twisting these well-known plots into a very modern love story all of her own.” —Travelling Book Junkie

About the author

As a young child, Fiona spent hours reading, curling up with a book was one of her favourite past times. Her current volume would accompany her everywhere, to school, on daytrips, holidays and visits. The idea of providing an imaginary world in which others can escape is a wonderful one and this became Fiona’s dream, to become a published author.

From an early age, Fiona’s parents encouraged her writing – it all started when they gave her a simple red lined exercise book. Soon she had a collection of notebooks, small, large, plain, The Snowman, Brambly Hedge, they all became full of her jottings. 

Years later, Fiona studied for a Combined Arts Degree at Durham, then a Masters in English – writing her thesis on Jane Austen and Masculinity. In total contrast she went to work for a renowned fashion magazine in London, then various marketing posts. Four lovely daughters later, during which time she has graduated from laughing at Mrs Bennet to sympathising with her, she continued to scribble away, only the notebooks are somewhat bigger. Fiona has written for national magazines on diverse subjects from Jane Austen to caravanning! One morning the idea came to her for ‘The Jane Austen Dating Agency’ and this was the first book she just had to write. The sequel, ‘A Wedding at the Jane Austen Dating Agency,’ was published in August. 

Fiona is also the author of the lockdown romance, ‘Love in Lockdown,’ which was published in November 2020 by Avon Books, under the pseudonym Chloe James. 

Fiona obviously loves writing, especially romantic comedy, meeting with friends and family, dancing, visiting historical houses (dreaming she lives there of course) walks by the sea and escaping into a book whilst consuming a worrying amount of chocolate.

My Review

I received an advance review copy thanks to Random Things Tours and I have written this review voluntarily. This is the second book in the series but can – for the most part – be read as a standalone, although there were times when I felt it would have helped to have read book one beforehand.

I considered myself enough of a Jane Austen buff to tackle this kind of story although some Austen references went over my head. Clearly my memory is not all I hoped it would be. Nonetheless, principal characters were easy enough to identify and match up to the Austen equivalent, and as such the story does flow with relevant ease and a healthy dose of humour.

The team at the Jane Austen Dating Agency are planning a wedding for one of their clients and in the run-up to the big day there are several events that build the Regency theme, from a sports day to a ball. These are particularly evocative and also great fun bringing the era to life. Sophie and Emma set the bar very high in their recreation of the period using stunning settings and fun activities to produce unforgettable events. There was no doubt in my mind that the wedding would be just as memorable for the same reasons.

Running alongside the wedding planning – or, to be honest, taking up the bulk of the story – is Sophie’s own story. Her romantic hopes with new boyfriend, Darcy, seem thwarted by his overbearing and snobbish mother. And since he is also her boss that doesn’t bode well as a result of some of her less appropriate (yet highly amusing) escapades.

There’s a very real element of escapism to this book, offering a return to the Regency era, yet it’s comparison to Sophie’s modern-day life shows that some things have not changed. I enjoyed how she evolved and wanted her to get the Happy Ever After she desired. It all seemed to be going wrong, but as in all the best romances, things tend to go wrong for a reason … maybe she was looking for Mr Right in the wrong places (you’ll need to read the book to find out 😉 Sorry!)

It was a fun read, although more to do with Sophie’s life than the wedding of the title, but I look forward to a third in the series to find out what happens next.

As always,

blog tour · book review · contemporary fiction · dual timeline · historical fiction · WWII

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Bookseller’s Secret

The Bookseller’s Secret
A Novel of Nancy Mitford and WWII
Michelle Gable

From New York Times bestselling author Michelle Gable comes a dual-narrative set at the famed Heywood Hill Bookshop in London about a struggling American writer on the hunt for a rumoured lost manuscript written by the iconic Nancy Mitford—bookseller, spy, author, and aristocrat—during World War II.

“Gable’s witty narrative effortlessly moves between two time periods and is enriched with cameos by historical figures and authentic, memorable characters. Historical fiction fans will be riveted from the first page.” —Publishers Weekly (STARRED REVIEW)

In 1942, London, Nancy Mitford is worried about more than air raids and German spies. Still recovering from a devastating loss, the once sparkling Bright Young Thing is estranged from her husband, her allowance has been cut, and she’s given up her writing career. On top of this, her five beautiful but infamous sisters continue making headlines with their controversial politics.

Eager for distraction and desperate for income, Nancy jumps at the chance to manage the Heywood Hill bookshop while the owner is away at war. Between the shop’s brisk business and the literary salons she hosts for her eccentric friends, Nancy’s life seems on the upswing. But when a mysterious French officer insists that she has a story to tell, Nancy must decide if picking up the pen again and revealing all is worth the price she might be forced to pay.

Eighty years later, Heywood Hill is abuzz with the hunt for a lost wartime manuscript written by Nancy Mitford. For one woman desperately in need of a change, the search will reveal not only a new side to Nancy, but an even more surprising link between the past and present…

Purchase link: Amazon UK

About the Author

MICHELLE GABLE is the New York Times bestselling author of A Paris Apartment, I’ll See You in Paris, The Book of Summer, and The Summer I Met Jack. She attended The College of William & Mary, where she
majored in accounting, and spent twenty years working in finance before becoming a
full-time writer. She grew up in San Diego and lives in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California, with her husband and two daughters. Find her at michellegable.com or on Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest, @MGableWriter.

My Review

How could a story about a bookseller and wartime spy not appeal? I’ll admit to a vague knowledge of the Mitford family, and was keen to read more about Nancy. The concept of author Katie Cabot searching for Nancy’s lost manuscript seemed like a novel way to combine the dual timelines in a cohesive whole.

So, it’s 1942 and aristocrat Nancy Mitford needs to come up with another bestselling novel to maintain her lifestyle since her estrangement from her husband. But ideas are thin on the ground and she grows more and more uncertain of recreating her earlier success. To make ends meet, she starts work at the Heywood Hill bookshop on a temporary basis. Hoping to find inspiration in between customers, Nancy finally decides to write a memoir.

It is this that draws Katie to the bookshop some eighty years later. Similarly, Katie is struggling to write her next novel too. Like-minded women, decades apart, Nancy and Katie have more in common than being writers. Both have a vast array of friends who make up for their disinterested families, and these friends are pushy and demanding, though they wrap it up as encouragement.

For me, the story took a while to hook me. As much as the the story appealed in theory, it didn’t quite grab my attention from the outset. That may be due to it being heavily dialogue-driven, it lacked depth and was a tad too “conversational” to keep me interested. Given that I hadn’t really connected with the characters, their conversations didn’t help me like them any better.

Fortunately, the second half – and, in particular, the final chapters – turned things around for me as more details of Nancy’s fascinating life was revealed. I began to understand Katie’s interest in Nancy and the so-called “missing years” that would fill in the precious gaps of a lifetime of rare and exceptional experiences.

Combining historical fiction with a contemporary storyline is a tough ask. For me, the historical elements were stronger and tighter, but I did enjoy the concept of telling some of Nancy’s story through Katie’s discoveries. Based on this, I’m keen to read more by this author as well as Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love.

As always,

Thanks for reading

Amazon Reviewer Name
blog tour · book review · Christmas · Contemporary Romance

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Amsterdam Affair

The Amsterdam Affair

A new start, a chance encounter, a Christmas to remember. Will Iris’s new year be happy ever after? 

When Iris Greene’s boyfriend surprises her with a romantic dinner at their favourite restaurant, she’s expecting a proposal, not a move to another country. 

But Amsterdam proves to be the change she never knew she needed, and a surprise encounter with a local actor leads Iris to new friends and the rediscovery of a long lost passion. While Iris thrives in a city filled with festivity, her boyfriend struggles, and her heart is torn in two. 

As snow falls and secrets are revealed, Iris must decide her future. Will she be brave enough to start over and take a chance on love? 

Author Bio

Kate Frost is the author of best-selling romantic escape novels (The Baobab Beach Retreat, A Starlit Summer, The Greek Heart, The Love Island Bookshop and The Amsterdam Affair), character-driven women’s fiction (The Butterfly Storm series and Beneath the Apple Blossom), and Time Shifters, a time travel adventure trilogy for children. She has a MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University, where she also taught lifewriting to creative writing undergraduates.

Kate lives in Bristol with her husband, young son, and their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Frodo. As well as writing novels, she’s also the Director of Storytale Festival, a new city-wide children’s book festival that she co-founded in Bristol in 2019 with the ethos of making books accessible to all and encouraging children and teens to read, write and be creative. Kate feels incredibly lucky to spend her days writing and being immersed in books. Her first book with Boldwood will be published in March 2022.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katefrostauthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/katefrostauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/katefrostauthor

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVhcSLhVZrTwDq9OteyFmHA

Website: http://kate-frost.co.uk/

Giveaway to Win a paperback copy of The Amsterdam Affair along with a bag of mini Stroopwafels (Open to UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

My Review

First up, that cover is just so inviting. How could I not want to be transported to Amsterdam? Iris may have been reluctant, but not me. However, this is Iris’s story …

When Will arranges a night out at their favourite restaurant with a cryptic message about something important, it takes mere milliseconds for Iris to presume he’s about to propose. And why wouldn’t he? They’ve been together seven years.

Needless to say, Will’s important news is something entirely different, something that he has chosen to do unilaterally with not a second thought for how Iris might feel. (Can you hear the warning bells?) Even so, it’s the chance of a lifetime for him to accept a job promotion to the Amsterdam branch of his firm. It comes complete with paid accommodation and Iris won’t even have to get a job. (Yeah, Will, cos Iris really does want to spend a year doing nothing in a foreign country, far from her friends and family while you trot off to work everyday as normal!) Still, Iris being Iris goes along with it, she doesn’t like her current job anyway so maybe this will give her time to sort out what she really wants to do with her life.

Their new apartment is wonderful, the scenery is stunning but there’s something missing … Yes, Will. He’s working all hours while Iris has to get to know Amsterdam by herself. Even at the weekends, she plans things that he’ll like because he’s not into all her arty stuff. Still, Will’s happy, isn’t he?

Taking regular walks, Iris starts to bump into the same people, nods hello and begins to feel more settled, even taking to her sketch book once again. But she’s getting a little bored of being on her own, so when the opportunity of a part-time job in her favourite café is advertised, she is quick to apply. And she gets it. This is her lifeline as she meets more people and is inspired to create more. Having giving up on her creative streak years before to get a job that would pay her bills, she’s loving the time and attention she can now devote to her artwork. The idea of making a living from it now seems more likely.

Will, however, is a little taken aback that she didn’t mention her coffee shop job to him (pot – kettle – black!) But, other than that, he’s happy. Isn’t he? Well, it turns out he’s not and he’s decided to leave his Amsterdam job early and return to the UK, once again without a word to Iris. But he wasn’t banking on Iris’s response. This time, she puts her foot down and stays until the flight they’d originally booked for Christmas arrives. Yay! Go Iris!

Can she survive on her own? Yes, she can …in fact she thrives. Which is why, when she does finally return to the UK for the Christmas holidays, she has a big decision to make. And I’m saying nothing more on the subject. Read the book; it’s delightful, Amsterdam is a marvel, and find out if Iris gets to live the life she deserves.

The Amsterdam Affair will draw you in like a mug of hot chocolate on a Winter’s evening, it will captivate you to the extent that you’ll never want to leave. I loved the ending, loved the characters in Amsterdam, loved the Christmassyness of the story.

I’ll slip in my bugbear here – and that was the use of “her” instead of “she” which cropped up so often, jarring my attention. Her and Will did this, her and Kelly did that. Not for me, that bit.

However, everything else made for a magical read. I love stories where people take risks, explore other countries and cultures. Anyway, I declare this a perfect read for the festive season. Enjoy!

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It’s a shame that this kind of story will now be a real fantasy for so many Brits who no longer have the freedom of movement to simply upsticks and move to somewhere like Amsterdam on a whim, without reams of paperwork and extra costs.

As always,

blog tour · book review · short reads · short story · WWII

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Numbers Game

The Numbers Game

Author: Miles Watson

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Numbers-Game-Miles-Watson/dp/1795868228?geniuslink=true

Genre:  Historical fiction

Print length: 45 pages

Age range: This is an adult book

Trigger warnings: Realistic war theme

The blurb

The Battle of Britain rages. London is in flames, and civilization itself totters on the brink. Does Pilot Officer Maurice Mickelwhite care? Not one damn. He may be one of the better fighter pilots in the Royal Air Force, but it’s not by choice. Maurice is a mathematical genius, who, if not for Hitler, would be happily teaching algebra and calculus at university. To hell with the war! Maurice just wants his numbers. Trouble is…the numbers also want him.

Praise for The Numbers Game

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Miles Watson’s work, “The Numbers Game” is an outstanding novella. .. The main character, Maurice is serving his country and thrown into combat during the Blitz of the Battle of Britain. Maurice is a quiet guy, a competent pilot, but a numbers guy to the bone. Each time he goes up, he cannot help but calculate the odds of his survival…. Watson does a magnificent job of putting the reader in the cockpit. You feel the cold temperature, you smell the oil, gasoline, and gun powder, and you feel the fear these pilots felt tackling insurmountable odds. It’s a story of duty, courage, honor, and of course…the numbers. A must read. – Amazon Review

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Watson hits one out of the park here. A short story that you don’t want to end. His explicit detail takes you right on the wings of some of the Royal Air Force’s toughest fighter jets. It’s a helpless feeling witnessing the grind that these men went through day in and day out and Maurice, the main character is there to coach you through some harrowing sorties… The numbers aspect only adds tension to the otherwise white knuckle ride you’ll be on. Glad I purchased. – Amazon Review

About the Author

Miles Watson has won more awards and accolades than almost any independent writer of his generation. His various works have won the following:

  • CAGE LIFE – Shelf Unbound Best Indie Book Runner Up (2016): Zealot Script Magazine “Book of the Year” (2017); Best Indie Book Award – Mystery & Suspense (2018)
  • KNUCKLE DOWN – Writer’s Digest S.P.B.A. Honorable Mention (2019); Best Indie Book Award – Suspense (2019)
  • DEVILS YOU KNOW – Eric Hoffer Award for Excellence in Independent Publishing Finalist (2019)
  • THE NUMBERS GAME – Pinnacle Book Achievement Award – Novella – (2019)
  • NOSFERATU – Pinnacle Book Achievement Award – Novella – (2020)
  • SINNER’S CROSS – Best Indie Book Award – Historical Fiction – (2019); Book Excellence Award – Action (2020); Literary Titan Book Award – Gold Medal (2020); Independent Author Network Book of the Year Awards – Finalist (2020)

He holds undergraduate degrees in Criminal Justice and History and a Masters of Fine Arts in Writing Popular Fiction, and served in law enforcement for nearly ten years before moving to Los Angeles, where he has worked on over 200 episodes of television and half a dozen feature films. But his first and last passion is writing.

My Review

Maurice Mickelwhite never expected to be a pilot when he joined up to the Air Force; he thought his mathematical genius would see him placed in some other role, but that was not the norm, especially during wartime.

You can take the man out the numbers game, but you can’t take numbers away from the man. It was Maurice’s nature to assess and analyse the probability of death in the skies. He wasn’t wrong, as the odds naturally decreased over time. The more outings a pilot took, the more chances there were of him being shot down. When would his own number be up? Surely he would know?

His analysis set him apart from his fellow pilots, and there were elements of mockery and derision aimed at his “predictions”, but nothing deterred him from number-crunching. Even so, the camaraderie of the flying units and their determined efforts to beat adversity shone through, and Maurice was visibly moved by the deaths of some of his longer term colleagues.

The story is concise yet complete in its endeavours to reflect a different slant on war and its inevitable impact on mortality. My only bugbear was the use of American English to tell Maurice’s story. Nonetheless, an interesting and thought-provoking short read. 4 stars from me.

As always,

Amazon Reviewer Name

blog tour · book review · conspiracies · fantasy · sci-fi · series

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Million Eyes II – The Unraveller

Following an impossible discovery in East London, archaeologist Dr Samantha Lester joins forces with software developer Adam Bryant to investigate the events that led to the disappearance of his best friend, Jennifer, and to bring down the people responsible – Million Eyes.

Before long, Lester and Adam are drawn into a tangled conspiratorial web involving dinosaurs, the Gunpowder Plot, Jesus, the Bermuda Triangle, and a mysterious history-hopping individual called the Unraveller, who is determined to wipe Million Eyes off the temporal map.

But as the secrets of Million Eyes’ past are revealed, picking a side in this fight might not be so easy.

Million Eyes II: The Unraveller is the second book in the Million Eyes Trilogy by C.R. Berry.

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Purchase Link (Amazon UK)

About the author

C.R. Berry writes conspiracy thrillers with lashings of sci-fi and fantasy. He is a former lawyer turned full-time writer and blogs regularly about conspiracy theories, time travel and otherworldly weirdness.

He was shortlisted in the 2018 Grindstone Literary International Novel Competition and has been published in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Storgy, Dark Tales, Theme of Absence and Suspense Magazine. He was also shortlisted in the Aeon Award Contest, highly commended by Writers’ Forum, and won second prize in the inaugural To Hull and Back Humorous Short Story Competition.

Why conspiracy thrillers? Because Berry’s favourite characters are often the villains, and in a conspiracy thriller, the villains are numerous and everywhere. They tend to be part of the government, the church, a big corporation, or a secret society, which makes them much scarier — and harder to beat — than a singular bad guy. Part of the fun of a conspiracy thriller is unveiling those involved, discovering their plans, and exposing the ‘big bad’ who masterminded it all.

Berry grew up in Farnborough, Hampshire, a town he says has as much character as a broccoli. He’s since moved to the “much more interesting and charming” Haslemere in Surrey

My Review

5 fabulous stars!

When the author asked me to read and review this second book in the Million Eyes series, I didn’t hesitate. The first book (read my review here) left a long-lasting impression on me. No way would I turn this one down. My only fear was whether The Unraveller would be as good. I need not have worried. It was as intriguing, captivating and addictive as the first. Actually, I’d go so far as to say it was even more so since now I had a complete grasp on the time-travelling theme and the conspiracies at its core.

This time around we meet the Unraveller whose role it is to change the course of history. The Million Eyes travellers are charged with making sure that doesn’t happen. But, of course, it’s not that easy. Spanning millennia and new to the series, the conspiracies of book two are evermore “out there”. From the dinosaurs to Jesus of Nazareth, characters from the first book are thrust into new settings. Heaven knows how much research was needed to give this story the credibility it has. Linking the past with the present, and even the future, the story occupies so many timelines you’d think it impossible to keep up. But that’s not so. The stories are interlinked in such a way as you can’t help but be swept along by the intrigue and danger. What might on the surface seem absurd suddenly becomes bizarrely plausible and totally intoxicating. There are a lot of characters and story lines to keep track of but I didn’t find that off-putting. If anything, it was a compelling read that held my attention and had me asking “What else could possibly happen?” By the way, C R Berry, that’s not a dare!

As someone who really doesn’t read much (any) fantasy or Sci-Fi these days, this was hugely entertaining. As a history buff, I loved the periods of history represented in this story, it made it relatable and all the more fascinating. A sublime revelation at the end made it still more satisfying. If you haven’t read this, then what are you waiting for. I would suggest starting with book one rather than launching straight into book two as I do believe that earlier grounding in the concept made the second book way more enjoyable and easy to follow.

And to the author, when you’re looking for reviewers for book three, I’m over here, ready and waiting.

As always,

blog tour · book review · Christmas · Contemporary Romance · romantic comedy

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Post Box at the North Pole

The Post Box at the North Pole

Dear Santa,

I wish I could believe in magic again.

From, Sasha.

Sasha Hansley hates Christmas. As a child, it was her favourite time of year, but ever since the tragic death of her mother, it has completely lost its magic.

But when she gets an unexpected phone call from her eccentric estranged father, she’s forced to dust off her snow boots.

He has been running a Lapland-style Christmas village in Norway and after suffering a heart attack, he is on strict doctor’s orders to slow down. Eager to reconnect with her dad, Sasha books the next flight out there. Only she has never actually been on a plane before, let alone to the Arctic Circle.

 Met at the runway by drop-dead-gorgeous Taavi Salvesen, they sleigh ride through the snow with the Northern Lights guiding their way.

 When Sasha uncovers sacks of unopened Santa mail – letters that children and adults from all over the world write to Santa every year – she realises that she can send a little bit of magic out into the world by replying to some of them.

 With Taavi on hand to help, will Sasha rediscover her own excitement for Christmas and find love among the letters?

The Post Box at the North Pole is like one big romantic mug of hot chocolate with extra whipped cream and a splash of Christmas magic! Fans of Holly Martin, Sarah Morgan and Heidi Swain will love this novel!

Purchase Links

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09DFHFNW3

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B09DFHFNW3

Author Bio

Jaimie is a 36-year-old English-sounding Welsh girl with an awkward-to-spell name. She lives in South Wales and enjoys writing, gardening, watching horror movies, and drinking tea, although she’s seriously considering marrying her coffee machine. She loves autumn and winter, and singing songs from musicals despite the fact she’s got the voice of a dying hyena. She hates spiders, hot weather, and cheese & onion crisps. She spends far too much time on Twitter and owns too many pairs of boots.
She will never have time to read all the books she wants to read.

She is the author of several romantic comedies for HarperCollins – The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters, The Little Wedding Island, It’s a Wonderful Night, The Little Vintage Carousel by the Sea, Snowflakes at the Little Christmas Tree Farm, The Little Bookshop of Love Stories, The Wishing Tree Beside the Shore, The Little Christmas Shop on Nutcracker Lane, and The Post Box at the North Pole.

Social Media Links

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/be_the_spark

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jaimieadmansbooks

My Review

I’m not known for reading Christmas stories before December – yes, I’m usually that pedantic Grinch, but no more! In her book The Postbox at the North Pole, Jaimie Admans had made a convert of me. Or maybe she’s spoiled me with such a magical, heart-warming story that others will fall flat. Who knows? All I know is…

Thank Santa I woke up and smelled the hot chocolate 😉

As a standalone contemporary romance novel, the story stands up well. Add in the magic of reindeers, The Northern Lights and Santa’s House and it becomes something magical.

Sasha has all but given up on Christmas. Since her mother’s death, her father is never around, and her gran isn’t exactly full of the Christmas spirit. Sasha has just lost her job when she gets a call from her dad asking her to help him out at a reindeer sanctuary in Norway. He’s had a heart attack and can’t manage on his own. Sasha instantly wants him to come back to the UK, but he is just as adamant to stay away. She relents and agrees to fly over on the proviso that she’ll help him get the place ready to sell so that he can return to Britain.

Of course, she’s not expecting to be met at the airport by the strong and silent type, Taavi. Nor does she expect to travel by a husky-drawn sled to the sanctuary. The surprises keep on coming, and since Sasha has never left Britain before, she is wowed by the stunning scenery, the intense cold and then … the awe of the Northern Lights.

There is one more surprise to come. Her father doesn’t run a reindeer sanctuary. He is in fact Santa and owns all of Santaland – from the themed cabins to the igloos, to the elves workshop and the post office. Unfortunately, much of it is in a state of serious disrepair with Taavi being the one-man-band in charge of fixing everything.

Will Sasha even be able to help him get the place ready to sell? There’s a reason why he never came home, why he can’t talk to her about her mum’s death . Getting him to open up to her is a job in itself, and he’s getting on in years. Sasha must make this visit work, she must fill the void in their relationship for both their sakes. But is selling up and taking him away from everything he loves the answer? The village is certainly enchanting and full of innocent charm. Finding sacks of unanswered letters in the Post Office certainly plays a part in showing her how important the place is to her dad and to Tav, as well as to the many children across the world who still believe in Santa.

Cue cheeky reindeers, a sweet love story for the Postlady, and mugs and mugs of hot chocolate.

Tav is the epitome of understated, with his own reason for being so entrenched in his lifestyle and so unwilling to change. Can Sasha really get to the bottom of what’s going on at Santaland and, if she does, will she be able to sell up and walk away? Will she want to?

The author brings the setting to life, with the backdrop of the Northern Lights and Santa’s House how could I not be transported to Santaland? If they’re still open for bookings, then I’m on my way.

Emotional, poignant, mischievous and magical. I loved it and will happily re-read it again and again.

Thanks to Jaimie Admans and Netgalley for my copy of this fabulous story.

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blog tour · book review · crime · police procedural · serial killer · series

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Retribution

Retribution

An ex-soldier is mown down in a brutal hit and run. Was it an accident, or an act of murder?

DCI Jane Birchfield isn’t sure. She is struggling to stay focussed after a surprise marriage proposal, and is still waiting for news about a promotion. But she has to push it all to one side as the investigation swiftly escalates into the biggest challenge she has ever faced, bringing her into conflict with her superiors, her partner, and the British Army. She’s tested to the absolute limit, and for the very first time, finds herself asking whether it’s worth the sacrifice. Can she survive the pressure as the harsh reality of military conflict hits the streets of Ashbridge?

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Retribution-Heaton-Wilson-ebook/dp/B098B9J9JN/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Retribution-Heaton-Wilson-ebook/dp/B098B9J9JN/

Author Bio

I have been a newspaper journalist, a postman, a public relations officer, a consultant, an actor, a director, a playwright. And I have always kept writing.

I always felt I could write a novel. And I did! The first book in my crime fiction series featuring DCI Jane Birchfield, Every Reason, came out in 2016. Whatever It Takes was published in 2021; and the third book (which follows on where Whatever It Takes ends) is nearing completion.

I’m from Manchester but now live on the Isle of Wight, where the sea is never far away. It’s the perfect place to be creative, and to walk the dogs.

Social Media Links

Twitter @kkevvin

Facebook http://facebook.com/heatonwilson

My Review

This is the first book I’ve read by this author, and I’ve already added the previous two in the series to my reading list.

The author wastes no time in kicking the story off with a bang as the first of several fatal hit-and-runs take place. The deceased is a decorated former soldier on his way home from a Friday night out at the pub. Was it an accident? That’s certainly how it’s viewed initially, until a second incident occurs involving another former soldier and one who served with the first victim. Members of DCI Jane Birchfield’s team are no longer convinced these are accidents.

The investigation gets going proper only after Jane can convince her new boss that it’s worth looking into. The two of them have history, and Jane feels she’s been sidelined for promotion when he is appointed in a role in which she had been acting chief for several months. Nonetheless, he’s happy for her to pursue her enquiries (only because he really has no clue how to run the investigation!) Fortunately, Jane can rely on her own small team who set to work.

Running alongside the plot are several personal stories that flesh out the characters and affect their approach to the job. Jane is super ambitious, feeling a little dejected right now, but determined to scale to greater heights. At home, her partner is considering selling his newspaper business so the two of them can spend more time together. An out-of-the-blue proposal muddies the waters further and put increased pressure on their relationship as they seem to diverge further apart with each passing day. Jane’s wine-gum loving DI is considering retirement, and Jane worries about losing him from the team and her life.

The killer is known by the reader early on, and some chapters are told from his POV. It’s interesting to see the detectives put the pieces together as they get closer to catching the murderer before another death occurs.

This was an excellent police procedural from start to finish, a perfect character-driven, exciting crime thriller. I’m looking forward to reading more about DCI Birchfield and her team.

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As always,