The Birthday House By Jill Treseder

I received The Birthday House by Jill Treseder as part of the Random Things Blog Tours. This murder mystery is a fantastic read, set in 1955, based on a disturbing real-life crime.

The Birthday House By Jill Treseder

The Birthday House

A Friendship. A Murder. A life that will never be the same.

The year is 1955, the location picturesque Devon. In a house by the River Dart, schoolgirl Josephine Kennedy posts invitations to her twelfth birthday party a party that never takes place. Horrific violence is committed that night in the family home, leaving all of its occupants dead.

Based on a disturbing real-life crime, this compelling story explores Josephine’s fate through the prism of friends and family – the victims and survivors who unwittingly influenced the events that led up to the tragedy.

Josephine’s best friend, Susan, is haunted by the secrets of the birthday house. Can she ever find a way of making peace with her past?

Jill Treseder

Jill Treseder - Author of The Birthday House

Taken from www.jilltresederwriter.com:


I started writing in a red shiny exercise book when I was seven years old. But in that time and place it was an ‘invalid’ activity, was overlooked, but never went away. It was many years before I felt able to call myself ‘writer’.
But there came a day when the phrase ‘I am a writer’ no longer sounded pretentious, but legitimate, and even necessary. Was it because I had a writing room instead of the corner of a landing? Or because I spent more time writing? Or because I’d got better at it? Or because I get miserable and bad-tempered if I don’t write? Probably a combination of all of the above.


Writing is my third career. The first was as a social worker with children and families, a job I loved, but left because I could no longer cope with the system.


This led to a freelance career as an independent management consultant, helping people to handle emotions in the work context. I worked in the IT industry, in companies large and small, as well as public organisations. Later I became involved in research projects concerned with the multi-disciplinary approach to social problems such as child abuse. So, in a sense, I had come full-circle.


All these experiences feed into the process of writing fiction, while my non-fiction book ‘The Wise Woman Within’ resulted indirectly from the consultancy work and my subsequent PhD thesis,‘Bridging Incommensurable Paradigms’, which is available from the School of Management at the University of Bath.


I live in Devon and visit Cornwall frequently and these land and seascapes are powerful influences which demand a presence in my writing.
Writers’ groups and workshops are a further invaluable source of inspiration and support and I attend various groups locally and sign up for creative courses in stunning locations whenever I can. I try doing writing practice at home but there is no substitute for the focus and discipline achieved among others in a group.


I have written some short stories and recently signed up for a short story writing course to explore this genre in more depth.
I live with my husband in South Devon and enjoy being involved in a lively local community.

My Thoughts

I couldn’t wait to read Jill Treseder’s The Birthday House, I love crime novels and being based on a real-life crime made this even more enticing. Beginning with Mrs Harrison, the house keeper discovering the bodies to Josephine’s best friend Susan as she hears the news and later on in life discovers there is more to the story.

I really enjoyed reading from everyone’s perspective, it gives you a clearer picture of how these crimes affect everyone from housekeepers, best friends. It also gives you am understanding of the murders thought process and a good look at the emotions and grief felt by everyone both in the lead up to the murders and after.

I read The Birthday House in one sitting as it was such a compelling and convincing read. Whilst this is only a fiction based on a real-life crime, you get the feeling Jill is very close to the mark. I would definitely recommend this novella to crime fans.

The Lagotti Family Series By Leopold Borstinski

I received The Lagotti Family Series by Leopald Bostinski to review thanks to Damp Pebbles Blog Tours. This noir crime/crime thriller includes 4 books; The Heist, The Getaway, Powder and Mama’s Gone.

The Lagotti Family Series Books 1-4 Complete Collection Including The Heist, The Getaway, Powder and Mama's Gone.

The Lagotti Family Series

Two generations and four decades in the lives of Frank, Mary Lou and the rest of the gang.

The Heist. Book 1 in The Lagotti Family Series by Leopold Borstinski

The Heist

After Leaving Baltimore Penitentiary, Frank’s get rich quick scheme to rob a bank requires his girlfriend, Mary Lou to sleep with an inside guy and for his gang to stay together long enough to take down the vault. Meanwhile Mary Lou falls for the inside man and can’t decide whether to go with him or Frank. If she chooses the wrong fella she’ll be penniless and wind up dead. How would you choose between a fool and a dreamer?

The Getaway. Book 2 of The Lagotti Family Series by Leopold Bostinski

The Getaway

After ex-con Frank and his girlfriend Mary Lou rob a Baltimore Bank, they must flee across the country before the Feds find them and the mob ices them for stealing from an organised crime boss. As they dash to California, trust becomes the most important currency as Frank and Mary Lou grapple to decide whether love is enough to keep them together. And by the time they reach their goal, they must fight to the death to survive hired guns and trained police shooters. If they don’t kill everyone in their way then they will die themselves. Would you risk everything for a sack of greenbacks?

Powder. Book 3 in The Lagotti Family Series by Leopold Borstinski

Powder

When Mary Lou takes the proceeds from a bank robbery to start her heroin dealing business, old enemies circle overhead and threaten the lives of her twins. How will she keep them safe in such a dangerous place and what is she prepared to do to secure her new venture?

Mama's Gone. Book 4 in The Lagotti Family Series by Leopold Bostinski

Mama’s Gone

When Mary Lou makes some bad decisions, her twins and her husband must decide whether she’s losing her mind. If they an get that cleared up then all they have to worry about is their feud with the Russian mob. And then someone goes and ices the old lady. Who would have the cajones to murder the head of the Lagotti family?

Leopold Borstinski

Leopold Borstinski

Leopold Bosrstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included 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 philosphy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

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

My Thoughts

I was looking forward to the Lagotti Family Series, I love reading books like this. I felt there was a little too much sexual content that took over the main story line but outside of that this 4 book series is a great read. In the Heist, Mary Lou has to make some tough decisions regarding which man she truly wants to be with, or who has the most money. All four books are action-packed with car chases and violence which I really enjoyed. The characters are strong with a sense of humour and crudeness that will have you chuckling to yourself at times. Overall the series is great but a little too much sex for my liking. I quite enjoy romantic thrillers but this felt a little over the top.

Justice Gone By N. Lombardi Jr. Blog Tour

I received Justice Gone By N. Lombardi Jr. to review thanks to Damp Pebbles Book Tours.

Justice Gone by N. Lombardi Jr.

Justice Gone is a legal thriller and the winner of three awards including:

  • 2019 American Fiction Award
  • National Indie Excellency Award – Best Legal Thriller of 2019
  • Silver Medal Winner 2019 Reader’s Favourites Awards

The book was also chosen by Wiki.ezvid.com among their list of 10 Gripping and Intelligent Legal Thrillers.

***Trigger Warning – This book touches on subjects that may be triggering for some. ***

Justice Gone

When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down.

A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran’s counsellor, is caught up in the chase.

Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa’s patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets of to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers gets there first, leading to Darfield’s dramatic capture.

Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge?

N. Lombardi Jr.

N. Lombardi Jr.

N. Lombardi Jr, the N for Nichola, has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, working as a groundwater geologist. Nick can speak five languages: Swahili, Thai, Lao, Chinese and Khmer (Cambodian).

In 1997, while visitibg Lao People’s Democratic Republic, he witnessed the remnants of a secret war that had been waged for nine years, among which were children wounded from leftover cluster bombs. Driven by what he saw, he worked on the The Plain of Jars for the next eight years.

Nick maintains a website with content that spans most aspects of the novel: The Secret War, Laotion culture, Buddhism etc. http://plainofjars.net.

His second novel, Journey Towards a Falling Sun, is set in the wild frontier of northern Kenya.

His latest novel, Justice Gone as inspired by the fatal beating of a homeless man by police. Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

My Thoughts

Justice Gone is everything you want in a legal thriller. It is filled with so much courtroom detail it is honestly astounding! Starting off with a gruesome beating of an innocent war veteran by cops. Lombardi pulls you into a complex story line full of twists and turns.

Lombardi explores the plight of war veterans from homelessness, police brutality, political cover ups and PTSD through Justice Gone. These are very real and serious issues making this novel extremely believable. My favourite character was the rather flamboyant and wise lawyer. Nathaniel Bodine uses his blindness in such a clever way without overdoing it to make his plans work. But can he help Donald escape the lethal injection?

Damp Pebbles Blog Tours

Hire Idiots by Professor I.M. Nemo – Blog Tour

I received Hire Idiots by Professor I.M. Nemo to review as part of the Damp Pebbles blog tour. Hire Idiots is a murder mystery published by Fox Spirit Books.

Hire Idiots Book Cover

Hire Idiots

Academia can be murder…

Prominent professor stabbed to death on the Kingsley College campus.

Untimely death strikes the comfortable college community. Unfortunately, the esteemed academic’s demise may get lost in the confusion of vice presidents, marketers, focus groups, assessors and protesters as the new administration tries to ‘modernise’ the campus. There’s no time for mystery!

Professor Clarence Van Dyke finds himself bewildered by the changes to the institution but determined to get to the bottom of things. He wants his friend rest in peace—or perhaps he just wants to spend more time with the attractive Detective Riordan. But isn’t he the prime suspect?

My Thoughts

Hire Idiots is a great read if you love a murder mystery mixed in with a bit of politics. With a lot of changes, a murder and the campus theatre being occupied by someone with a private security firm standing guard, and a budding romance, this book has a little bit of everything.

Usually a murder mysteries main focus would of course be on the murder however Professor I.M Nemo really shakes this up. With a good chunk of the book focused on the university politics it’s a fantastic but different style of murder mystery.

I really enjoyed Professor Professor Clarence Van-Dyke’s sense of humour, it is quite dark and rather satirical throughout the book.

If you love a murder mystery with a difference, then this is definitely the book for you!

Little Explorers: Goodnight Ocean – Children’s Book Review

Izzy received Little Explorers: Goodnight Ocean to review from Little Tiger. Written by Becky Davies and illustrated by Carmen Saldaña. This board book with layered die-cuts are perfect for ages 1 to 6 years. Your little one will enjoy watching sea creatures take a rest as they drift off to sleep themselves.

Little Explorers: Goodnight Oean

Little Explorers: Goodnight Ocean

Dive into the depths of the ocean and say goodnight to the sea creatures take their rest as they swim over carpets of coral to the deepest depths of the ocean.

Goodnight Ocean

The intricate peep-through scenes and facts on every page will engage children as they discover different habitats under the sea. The gentle rhyming text will slowly lull your little one to sleep making this beautiful book perfect for bedtime.

Becky Davies blends the lyrical and the factual to make learning fun. With additional facts on every page and a twinkling, foiled final spread, little explorers will love this book. Beautifully illustrated by the popular Carmen Saldaña, illustrator of the award shortlisted The only way is Badger, little ones will immersed into the depths of the ocean.

Final spread of Goodnight Ocean

Carmen Saldaña

Carmen lives in Gijon, a rainy city in the north of spain. After studying Arts, she worked as a graphic designer in advertising agencies before becoming a freelance illustrator focusing on children’s books, the field she enjoys the most. Carmen Loves furry animals, birds, bugs and everything related to nature, her main source of inspiration.

Becky Davies

Becky is a children’s book editor and sometimes author from the South West of England. Her favourite things are animals, books about magic, and anything sparkly. In a parallel universe she lives in Hawaii, where she works in a dog sanctuary and surfs until the sun sets beyond the horizon.

Do you know a little one who would love exploring the Ocean at night too?

Dynamic Entry By Fiona Morgan

I bought Dynamic Entry by Fiona Morgan when it was published last month. Fiona writes thriller romance novels and I was excited to read Dynamic Entry having enjoyed What’s Mine and Free.

Dynamic Entry by Fiona Morgan

Dynamic Entry

Sophie Peterson is a fiercely independent undercover policewoman who refuses to let any man stand in her way. Love is not in her vocabulary. Her fiercely guarded heart… and her life, is threatened by a chance meeting while on a date with her target, the head of an extensive criminal enterprise.

Now, split between her undercover job in the dangerous would of protection rackets, drugs, and guns, and her blossoming love life, Sophie is forced to choose between bringing down the gang, or saving the man she loves.

Can she bring the criminal cartel down once and for all?

Will he forgive her for her lies?

Or was she right all along with keeping her heat hiden?

Dynamic Entry is a thriller romance novel based in Glasgow and deals with love, deception and revenge.

My Thoughts

Once again Fiona Morgan has written a fantastic romance thriller novel that will have you hooked from the start. Sophie Peterson’s job pushes her into a tricky situation, just as she finally meets a man she likes, forcing her to go back undercover.

Due to Sophies own past, lying to her new boyfriend about her surname and job has her really torn. To make matters worse, the criminal she thought she’d had locked up is determined to make her his. Can she finally free herself of her past, allow herself to love and take down this nasty criminal once and for all?

Fiona has an amazing talent when it comes to showing the depth of emotion and mental struggles of her characters, making it hard to tear yourself away from her books and Dynamic Entry is certainly no exception!

Thriller Romance Novels By Fiona Morgan

I honestly couldn’t recommend Dynamic Entry, What’s Mine and Free more. They are all fantastic reads and I’ll be harassing Fiona for updates on her fourth book!

Fiona Morgan - Author of Dynamic Entry, Free and What's Mine

Fiona Morgan

Fiona started writing as a way to fight depression. She enjoys writing about strong female characters who find their inner strength. In her day job she works as a British Sign Language Facilitator and a Deaf blind Communicator, having learned BSL after the birth of her second daughter. She lives in Airdrie, a small town near Glasgow, Scotland, with her husband and two daughters. Her ambition is to be a full-time author, writing and attending writing festivals and book signings.

Do you enjoy thriller romance novels?

A River Of Bodies By Kevin Doyle

I received A River of Bodies by Kevin Doyle, the second book in his Solidarity Books Trilogy, to review. I also received his first book To Keep a Bird Singing.

The Gripping Sequel To Keep A Bird Singing

A River Of Bodies

Noelle Sullivan, disaffected ex-punk and grassroots activist, has every reason to be afraid. His investigation into Danesfort Industrial School and the boys who went missing from it is attracting attention. Special Branch want him to disappear and he’s made enemies of the powerful Walsh and Donnelly families.

A River of Bodies

But Noelie is determined to get to the truth. He walk away. At least that’s what he tells himself until his friends and family start paying the price.

My Thoughts

Noelie’s investigation continues into the dark world of the Donnelly family. The clock is ticking with Albery Donnelly onto Noelie and his friends. This really is a fantastic political thriller, written in such a way that you won’t be able to stop yourself reading it in one sitting. Noelie is so determined to uncover all the dirty secrets regarding the Donnelly family and their associations with the Catholic church and the security forces.

I’m looking forward to the third book of the trilogy being published and finding out how Noelie and his friends manage to uncover!

To Keep A Bird Singing

To Keep A Bird Singing

When Noelie Sullivan finds his stolen punk records for sale in a charity shop in Cork it seems like a lucky break. But Noelie has just made himself and those closest to him a target.

Hidden among the records is a statement alleging that missing man, Jim Dalton, was murdered by the security services twenty years ago to protect a high-ranking informer in the IRA.

In spite of himself, Noelie gets drawn into the story of Dalton’s disappearance and uncovers a link between the missing man and a powerful family of brothers, who have ties to a former industrial school.

Noelie’s every move takes him deeper into danger. What price will he pay for the truth?

My Thoughts

Right from the start you feel compelled to keep reading and discover more about Albert Donnelly, his family and the detailed statement Noelie finds in his stolen records. Noelie’s sheer determination to uncover the truth pushes him and his friends into danger in this political, you can’t help but want to dig deeper with him. A brilliant start to the Solidarity Books Trilogy.

Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle is from Cork and works as a writer and creative writing teacher. He has been published in many literary journals, including Stinging Fly, The Cork Review, Southwords and the Cúirt Journal. He is the winner of a string of awards, including the Tipperary Short Story Award (1998) – first; Over The Edge New Writer Of The Year – Shortlist; Hennessy Literary Awards (2011) – Shortlist; Seán Ó Faoláin Prize (2013) – Runner up; Michael McLaverty Short Story Award (2016) – Winner. In 2018 he published his first novel.

The Secrets We Kept By Lara Prescott Blog Tour

I received The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott to review, a historical fiction around the banned masterpiece, Doctor Zhivago.

The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott

The Secrets We Kept

1956. A celebrated Russian author is writing a book, Doctor Zhivago, which could spark dissent in the Soviet Union. The Soviets, afraid of its subversive power, ban it.

But in the rest of the world it’s fast becoming a sensation.

In Washington DC, the CIA is planning to use the book to tip the Cold War in its favour.

Their agents are not the usual spies, however. Two typists – the charming, experienced Sally and the talented novice Irina – are charged with the mission of a lifetime: to smuggle Doctor Zhivago back into Russia by any mean necessary.

It will not be easy. There are people prepared to die for this book – and agents willing to kill for it. But the cannot fail – as this book has the power to change history.

Lara Prescott

Lara Prescott -Author

Lara Prescott was named after the heroine of Doctor Zhivago and first discovered the true story behind the novel after the CIA declassified 99 documents pertaining to its role in the book’s publication and covert dissemination.

She travelled the world – from Moscow and Washington, to London and Paris – in the course of her research, becoming particularly interested in political repression in both the Soviet Union and United States and how, during the Cold War, both countries used literature as a weapon.

Lara earned her MFA from the Michener Centre for Writers. She lives in Austin, Texas with her husband.

My Thoughts

Lara Prescott has certainly written an amazingly compelling read. With a mix of historical fact and fiction surrounding Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak, it’s a real page turner!

Told through the eyes of two female spies taken from the typing pools of the CIA to smuggle Doctor Zhivago out of the USSR during the height of the cold war, The Secrets We Kept is a cleverly written novel, showing the level of research Lara Prescott must have put in to complete it.

With the literary love story between Boris Pasternak and Olga, his mistress and muse and the base of Zhivago’s heroine, Lara, interweaved throughout, The Secrets We Kept keeps you wanting to read on and know more.

The censorship of literature always intrigues me and it’s interesting to see the lengths those in power will go to, to ensure writers and those helping them are persecuted. With 2020 marking the 60th anniversary of Pasternak’s death, Lara Prescott’s novel will certainly help his legacy and the importance of Doctor Zhivago lives on.

The Lost Fairy Tales – Fearless Girls Around The World

Eva received The Lost Fairy Tales – Fearless Girls Around The World to review from Little Tiger. Written by Isabel Otter and illustrated beautifully by Ana Senderthroughout, this book is perfect for ages 7 to 11 years.

The Lost Fairy Tales - Fearless Girls Around The World

The Lost Fairy Tales

An enchanting anthology of 20 overlooked and forgotten fairy tales has been collected from different cultures around the world to create this book. Every story features a female heroine, who approaches life with humour, wit, cunning and bravery. None of these heroines need rescuing!

Story Map

Ana Sender’s magical illustrations bring these tales to life, and a handy map shows the origin of the stories from around the world. The Lost Fairy Tales is the perfect gift to inspire and uplift young readers.

Isabel Otter

Isabel is a children’s book editor and writer. She grew up in rural Herefordshire and spent much of her childhood in trees. Isabel loves weaving stories and writing about the world around her. She currently lives in London.

Ana Sender

Ana was born in Terrassa (Barcelona). As a child, she loved to draw, write and imagine all sorts of stories. She studied painting and illustrations in Massana art school in Barcelona. Her work has appeared in newspapers, books and also fashion (as a pattern designer for the Spanish brand La Casita de Wendy). Ana has written and illustrated children’s books The Orchid Hunter and The Cottingley Fairies, her last book Onironiro is a picture book about the adventures or situations she lives in her dreams. She likes werewolves, surrealism and swampy places.

Our Thoughts

We love The Lost Fairy Tales, each story really is unique in showing how women, all around the world are heroines too. The majority of fairy tales often portray prim princesses as damsels in distress but not in this book.

Goddess of the sun

Eva’s favourite story was Goddess of the Sun, set in Mexico. She likes how the message behind the story is that men aren’t always the strongest or bravest and that girls can be the heroine of the story.

Goddess Of The Sun Image

The beautiful illustrations throughout the book help the stories come alive. Fairy tales are often retold of written by men, about men. It’s lovely to discover so many fairy tales where that is simply not the case. I absolutely love this book and so does Eva, the stories really show that girls can be just as brave, strong and clever as men and can save the day too.

Do you enjoy books with strong female characters too?

Cherry Nova By Kelly-Marie Pollock

I received Cherry Nova by Kelly-Marie Pollock to review in pdf format. Cherry Nova is a gothic romance and occult horror set in Victorian London.

Cherry Nova Frontcover

*Contains adult themes including Sex, Drug Use, Profanity and Violence*

Cherry Nova

Set in Victorian London, Cherry Nova follows the story of Nova, a young woman, who awakens in a downtrodden hotel room with no recollection of who she is and how she got there. With her life seemingly erased, she sets out on a journey of selfdiscovery, fuelled by an overbearing blood lust that leads her down an unknown path.

She soon realises though, that not all lovers love you, not all enemies are evil and that you can’t always trust the person staring back at you in the mirror. Magic, Mythology, Secrets and Lies all intertwine themselves around her newly carved out existence, but you can’t run from the past no matter how hard you try. Your sin will always boomerang back to you. Monsters are real, afterall, she should know – She’s one of them.

Back cover and blurb of Cherry Nova by Kelly-Marie Pollock

My Thoughts

Cherry Nova is fantastic from start to finish! I often struggle to stay focused when reading PDF’s however once I finally found the time, I found I couldn’t put my phone back down. I love a vampire novel set in the Victorian era and the detail throughout really gives you that grimy Victorian London feel. Each character’s personality really shines through as the story develops making you feel like you really get to know them.

I used to read a lot of vampire novels as a teen but this honestly tops them all! There are so many different things going on for Nova as she slowly regains her memories and figures out who and what she is.

I was relieved to see Cherry Nova is the first book in The Chronicles of Nova Morgan, I’ll be keeping my eye out for the rest of them as they are published.

Kelly-Marie Pollock

Kelly is a 33-year-old, married mum of 4 plus 3 adult step-children. She has an intense love of the Victorian era, Vampires and is waiting for a Zombie uprising. Kelly’s passion is writing. She is also a mental health advocate and BiPolar warrior. When she isn’t reading or writing, she enjoys long nature walks with her husband and their children. Kelly can not get through the day without her morning cup of tea. She uses excessive amounts of sarcasm and profanity in most sentences and she’s not even sorry. (Why would you be!? haha!)