#BlogTour Cold as Hell – Lilja Sigurðardóttir

With rights sold in 14 countries, Cold as Hell is the first in the riveting, atmospheric and beautifully plotted five-book series An Áróra Investigation, from one of Iceland’s bestselling crime writers.

Estranged sisters Áróra and Ísafold live in different countries, and are not on speaking terms. When their mother loses contact with Ísafold, Áróra reluctantly returns to Iceland to look for her. But she soon realizes that her sister isn’t avoiding her … she has disappeared, without a trace. As she confronts Ísafold’s abusive, drug-dealing boyfriend Björn, and begins to probe her sister ’s reclusive neighbours – who have their own reasons for staying out of sight – Áróra is drawn into an ever-darker web of intrigue and manipulation.


Baffled by the conflicting details of her sister’s life, and blinded by the shiveringly bright midnight sun of the Icelandic summer, Áróra enlists the help of police officer Daníel, to help her track her sister ’s movements, and tail Björn. But she isn’t the only one watching…

Oh how I love an Icelandic thriller! There is something wonderful about this country that lends itself perfect for many a gripping read and Cold As Hell is most certainly a gripping read! Written in short chapters, we follow Áróra as she somewhat reluctantly sets off to try and find her estranged sister Ísafold at their mother’s insistence. The girls have had a difficult relationshop, worsening as they have grown and Áróra is frankly sick of always trying to pick up the pieces and help her sister get her life together. In her mind, Ísafold needs to get herself sorted and make some self preservation decisions, but she doesn’t and seems incapable of changing. However, despite being annoyed about being cajoled into travelling to hunt for her sister, when she gets to Iceland Áróra finds herself mixed up with a few unusual and potentially suspicious people. A simple trip is no longer quite so simple.

Cold as Hell is a great read because the characters are interesting and the story line keeps you guessing with hints and suggestion but always leaving a little shred of doubt and mystery about what is going on. The story takes place over a short time but I felt like it was flying by because of the chapter length and also the movement between different threads of the story. There are definitely some difficult subjects addressed but nothing is written that is gratuitous and each part has a reason for being there to move the story forwards.

I am thrilled to see that this will not be the first time that we meet Áróra. She is a smart driven woman who has made a career for herself without depending on others to lay out the path for her. I really look forward to finding out more about her background as I feel we only just got to the first layer or so. It feels like there is a lot more to uncover and I look forward to doing so!

Cold as Hell is perfect for the days when you want to go on a journey without leaving the room. A bleak landscape, an incredible female lead and plenty of mystery – what more do you need?

About Lilja Sigurðardóttir: Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurðardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, shortlisted for the CWA International Dagger and hitting bestseller lists worldwide. Trap soon followed suit, with the third in the trilogy Cage winning the Best Icelandic Crime Novel of the Year, and was a Guardian Book of the Year. Lilja’s standalone Betrayal, was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award for Best Nordic Crime Novel. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. Lilja is also an award-winning screenwriter in her native Iceland. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.

You can follow Lilja on Twitter @lilja1972

#BlogTour Drinking Custard: Diary of a Confused Mum – Lucy Beaumont

Known for her sharp, witty and surreal view on everyday life, Lucy shares the unpredictable craziness of being a mum in this brilliant and laugh-out loud ‘mumoir’. Mums everywhere will recognise the madness of it all. From when Lucy was hospitalised with indigestion in her third trimester (blame the burrito), to when she was this close to slapping her hypno-birthing instructor, to fi nding herself drinking a whole pint of custard in one sitting. Drinking Custard also captures Lucy’s marriage to comedian Jon, as they navigate Lucy’s raging pregnancy hormones and balk at pram prices together.

Drinking Custard is a joyful read which made me giggle and thoroughly entertained me. When I first heard about the book, I will be honest and say that Lucy’s name didn’t immediately ring a bell to me but the book sounded great. However, once I saw the cover I realised that I did indeed know who she was and had heard her on some podcasts relatively recently – I am clearly just terrible with names. I can be quite sceptical about celeb books but Lucy comes across as so down to earth and relatable that I felt like I was sitting with a friend as I read. She is someone I could well imagine sitting having a coffee and cake with and having a good laugh. I love how she has retained her Northern roots and self alongside her fame. I think this adds to how well she comes across when writing.

Throughout the book we hear lots of funny stories from Lucy’s life and the extra challenges faced with motherhood! The writing style is conversational and each section is broken up with different subheadings and the occasional aside. She has a real knack for telling a story and I often found myself laughing aloud, occasionally with tears of mirth. My daughter is a similar age to Elsie and so I found myself nodding along with many of the stages that Lucy talks about. We get a few comment’s from Lucy’s husband Jon which made me laugh. I had wondered how often he would chime in and was worried it might be a bit too often but actually there are only the occasional few lines which added to the humour nicely! Whilst I accept that non-parents might not be that interested in reading parent related books, I actually think that Drinking Custard would be enjoyed by non-parents – you just need a sense of fun!

(And as I final comment… I am very very tempted to stock up on custard for an indulgent drink! It sounds like a marvellous idea!)

About Lucy Beaumont: Lucy Beaumont is a talented stand-up, comedy actress and writer. She is the writer and star of BBC Radio 4’s To Hull and Back, writer of Channel 4’s Hullraisers and co-writer of Dave’s Meet The Richardsons which returns for a second series this year. Lucy is a well-known daughter of Hull and is passionate about her hometown. She has appeared on numerous entertainment shows; Artsnight (BBC2), Jon Richardson: Ultimate Worrier (Dave), Alan Davies’ As Yet Untitled (Dave), QI (BBC2), Drunk History (Comedy Central), Jonathan Ross Show (ITV), The One Show (BBC1), Cats Does Countdown (C4), What’s Going to Kill Us (C5), Live At The Electric (BBC Three) and featured in a Maltesers advertising campaign.

#BlogTour Could You Survive Midsomer? Simon Brew

CAN YOU AVOID A BIZARRE DEATH IN ENGLAND’S MOST DANGEROUS COUNTY?

All is not well in the beautiful county of Midsomer. On the eve of its first Villages In Bloom competition, a man lies slain, smelling of damson jam. Who could have done it?

Well, that’s where you come in. Step into the shoes of Midsomer CID’s newest recruit, choose your own path and decide which way the story goes.

Could You Survive Midsomer? sets off on an engaging pick-your-own adventure format to challenge the reader to solve a crime or succumb to the county’s suspiciously high death rate. Set in television’s most celebrated and murderous county, the book allows readers to see if they can get to the bottom of the mystery and bring the perpetrator to justice, avoiding an untimely, and possibly bizarre death, along the way. Your task is to make the right choices, solve the case and – most tricky of all – stay alive!

Midsomer Murders is an absolute institution in my family. If in doubt about what to watch, Midsomer is often the go to show of choice! I was excited to hear about a Midsomer book but this was exponentially increased when I found out the style of book. As a child I was an enormous fan of the choose your own adventure style books and had dozens which were all well thumbed. It is one of the genres I have missed as an adult when perusing books for younger family members. Could You Survive Midsomer is a marvellous mix of nostalgia and entertainment I suspect it will big a big hit for others who similarly enjoyed interactive books as well as those who are fans of the show!

The story is good fun and I took my time pondering my choices and enjoying how these played out. It was a great tonic to dip in and out of between shifts and perfect for in between novels. There are so many possibilities it can be difficult to decide which avenues to go down but of course you always have the option to go back and have another try (or indeed tries) if you end up somewhere unexpected!

I can definitely see this in the stockings of many a Midsomer fan this Christmas, however, you may not want to wait until then to get your copy and dive right in!

About Simon Brew: Simon Brew is the former editor and founder of Den of Geek – the popular culture news and reviews website. He is the author of three books including Movie Geek, TV Geek and The Secret Life of the Movies. Simon is also the founder of the magazine and podcast Film Stories.

About Midsomer Murders: Midsomer Murders is a TV national treasure. For over 21 years, residents of this quintessentially English county have hosted a series of homicides, which have been at the centre of over 100 episodes. With a huge international fanbase, Midsomer Murders has sold in over 220 territories. A top export of the UK detective genre, the show is hugely popular in Germany, France and all over Scandinavia, as well as having major fanbases in North America and Canada, Australia – and Japan!

#BlogTour Lemon – Kwon Yeo-sun

Translated by Janet Hong

In the summer of 2002, nineteen-year-old Kim Hae-on was murdered in what became known as the High School Beauty Murder. There were two suspects: Shin Jeongjun, who had a rock-solid alibi, and Han Manu, to whom no evidence could be pinned. The case went cold.

Seventeen years pass without justice, and the grief and uncertainty take a cruel toll on her younger sister, Da-on, in particular. Unable to move on with her life, Da-on tries in her own twisted way to recover some of what she’s lost, ultimately setting out to find the truth of what happened.

Told at different points in time from the perspectives of Da-on and two of Hae-on’s classmates, Lemon is a piercing psychological portrait that takes the shape of a crime novel and is a must-read novel of 2021.

Lemon is most definitely a book which is dividing opinion but, for me, it was right up my street. It is a short book but my goodness does it pack in a lot in each page. We know that Kim Hae-on was tragically and horribly murdered in 2002 but who was responsible? We know there were two leading suspects but never enough evidence to charge either of them so sadly the case could never be conclusively solved. Over the course of seventeen years we dip in and out of different times and perspectives from a few characters. Sometimes it is not immediately clear who is speaking but this is deliberate. We gain information from each chapter which might be directing us towards an answer or perhaps sending us off on our own tangents. It is quite a descriptive read and we get a some insights into the culture and social expectations. None of the characters are overly likeable but there is something about each which made me curious and I thought a lot about their individual situations and how this murder impacted upon them.

It is a story which is hard to review as there is a lot of subtext and nuance within the writing and I believe that a lot of it is intentionally open or slightly unclear to allow the reader to form their own opinions and theories then come to their own conclusions. For me, this was part of the beauty of this book – it made me pause and consider what I was reading and try to piece together possible clues and work out if I was misleading myself or being misled! I would most definitely recommend this for anyone who enjoys a puzzle and doesn’t need, or want, to have everything nicely parcelled at the end. You will find yourself continuing to mull things over long after the final page is turned and the book is closed!

About Kwon Yeo-sun: Kwon Yeo-sun is an award-winning Korean writer. She has won the Sangsang Literary Award, Oh Yeongsu Literature Award, Yi Sang Literary Prize, Hankook Ilbo Literary Award, Tong-ni Literature Prize and Lee Hyo-seok Literary Award. Lemon is her first novel to be published in the English language.

About Janet Hong: anet Hong is a writer and translator based in Vancouver, Canada. She received the TA First Translation Prize and the LTI Korea Translation Award for her translation of Han Yujoo’s The Impossible Fairy Tale, which was also a finalist for both the 2018 PEN Translation Prize and the National Translation Award. Her recent translations include Ha Seong-nan’s Bluebeard’s First Wife, Ancco’s Nineteen, and Keum Suk Gendry-Kim’s Grass.

You can get your copy from:

Amazon UK: https://bit.ly/3mw4AXa

Waterstones:https://bit.ly/3mw4AXa

Bookshop.org:https://bit.ly/3DbTxJg

Blackwells:https://bit.ly/2YqvirS

For more awesome books from Head of Zeus – check out their Twitter:@HoZ_Books or Instagram:@headofzeus and have a peep at the Website:http://www.headofzeus.com

#Extract – The Prince of the Skies – Antonio Iturbe

From the bestselling author of The Librarian of Auschwitz comes another captivating historical novel based on a true story – the extraordinary life and mysterious death of.

Only the best pilots are given jobs at Latécoère – the company destined to become Aéropostale. The successful candidates include Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. A man whose desire to fly will put him at odds with his aristocratic family and the girl who loves him – but who wants to keep him grounded. Together with his friends Jean and Henri, they will change the history of aviation and pioneer new mail routes across the world. But Antoine is also destined to touch the lives of millions of readers with his story The Little Prince.

But as war begins to threaten Europe, is Antoine’s greatest adventure yet to come . . .?
Translated by Lilit Žekulin Thwaites, this is a novel about love and friendship, war and heroism and the power of the written word.

I’m really pleased to be able to bring you an #extract from The Prince of the Skies as part of this #blogtour – please also check out the reviews and of course the book!

Extract:

Le Bourget Aerodrome (Paris), 1922 

ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPÉRY 

He pulls the joystick back toward his chest and the biplane lifts in search of a bank of clouds over Paris. The Caudron C.59 shudders, the Hispano-Suiza motor snorts. He soars through the white clouds, then pulls on the metal cable and forces the plane to climb an air mountain until it’s doing a handstand in the sky. The vibration of the fuselage carries through to his hands and from there, to his entire body. 

Sublieutenant Saint-Exupéry shivers, intoxicated with vertigo, and smiles with the infinite satisfaction of the mad, of children absorbed in their games: no notion of risk or time, immersed in a world that belongs solely to them, because they have made it to their own measure. 

While on the ground, the Caudron C.59 plane is nothing more than a cumbersome 700-kilo lump of wood, full of screws, rivets, and solder. It looks pathetically fragile as it rolls along on its little bicycle wheels, dragging its heavy frame—an overgrown child, chest puffed out, rattling precariously on its wire feet as it starts to trundle down the runway. The smallest stone in its path could knock it off balance, causing it to overturn spectacularly. But then the miracle happens: The heavy rolling hulk takes off from the ground, lifts itself toward the horizon, ascends and then suddenly banks slightly, agilely, grace- fully even. It’s made a mockery of its destiny as a whale stranded in its hangar. 

Antoine matches the plane itself. On the ground, both his big body, which forces him to move awkwardly, even clumsily, and his head filled with daydreams, totally ill-equipped to handle the most mundane aspects of daily living, convert him into a confused, tottering penguin futilely flapping its wings and unable to reach the sea. But up in the sky, he’s a totally different person. 

He becomes weightless. 

He moves the rudder to the left and the nose of the plane abruptly rolls in that direction. He smiles. He’s fulfilled every child’s dream: to make toys real and reality a game. 

He traces a braid in the air. He loves feeling that giddy tingle which elevates him beyond mediocrity; realising that he’s left all the vulgarity of the barracks on the ground, together with those officers who yell until the veins stick out in their necks. 

Antoine only raises his voice on those happy nights when he’s had too much burgundy or pastis and he launches into songs which start out cheerful and end up melancholy. When he gets angry, he falls silent. 

How sterile it is to say
What silence already knows . . . 

The plane sways in the air and Antoine sways too. He is a great admirer of the poet Mallarmé, and to show his support, he himself occasionally writes verse.

About Antonio Iturbe: Antonio Iturbe was born in 1967 and grew up in the dock-side neighbourhood of Barceloneta, in Barcelona. His first novel The Librarian of Auschwitz was the number one selling book in translation in the UK last year. It has been translated into 30 languages and has sold over 600K copies internationally.
Having grown up reading Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s books, Iturbe was inspired to write about the author’s extraordinary life. He conducted extensive research and, despite suffering from vertigo, even flew in a biplane so he would understand how it felt to fly. Iturbe hopes to translate not only the facts but also the poetry of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s writing in The Prince of the Skies.

#BlogTour Bright Lies – AA Abbott

She thought she had the perfect stepfather. So why is she running for her life?

Emily longs to be an artist. So she’s thrilled when her famous and talented stepfather offers to act as her mentor. But when his teachings take a darker turn, she flees his fancy home.


Bad boy Jack has made good as a hot DJ. Then he sees thugs attack a rough sleeper, and shocking memories spur him to her rescue. He doesn’t know she’s only 15 and running from a deadly predator.


Emily’s hopes of safety are crushed when her stepfather hunts her down. Now Jack faces the hardest choice of all. If he protects Emily from the fiend who’s stolen her childhood, he’ll kiss goodbye to his future.


What would you sacrifice to save a life?

I am getting way more into fiction audiobooks in recent months than I even thought I would be. I worried I might zone out and miss key parts of the story or that I wouldn’t be able to flick back and double check things like I might in a physical book. Well I definitely need not have worried. Bright Lies is exactly the sort of book I like to read and it worked beautifully for me as an audiobook. We get a dual perspective from Emily and Jack moving from 2014 to 2019. Emily and her mum feel like they’ve fallen on their feet when they meet David. He is an artist and falls in love with Emily’s mum after meeting at an exhibition. He is kind to Emily and treats her like his own daughter, showering her with attention and gifts. She can’t believe how lucky she is. Until suddenly things take a turn and Emily feels unable to live in her house a minute longer and runs as far and as fast as she can. Jack has had a tough start to life. Forced out by his uncle, he makes a new life for himself on the streets. He uses his intelligence and street smart to find himself shelter and get some work and is slowly piecing together a life of a kind. He meets Emily shortly after she has left home and steps in when she is the victim of unwanted attention. They bring each other hope and encouragement through the tough life they are living. But both are always watching over their shoulders as their old demons and tormentors may yet return to destroy them once again.

This is a really engaging story. Both lead characters are likeable and have faced way way more than anyone should have to. It is easy to get behind them and will them to succeed each time they are challenged. There are some rather tough topics within the story and I think they are handled well – the reader (or listener) knows what is going on without the need for too much explicit detail. Although it can be hard listening at times because of these topics, there is a determination within Emily and Jack which makes you want to stay with them and see how their lives will move forward.

I think this is quite a poignant book as although it is fiction, I fear that actually a lot of children and young adults are actually living lives horrible similar to Emily and Jack with uncomfortably similar circumstances. This story definitely shines a light on rough sleepers and homelessness – it is easy to turn your gaze and not allow yourself to think to hard about the individuals. But this story gives a different perspective about how a few breaks not going your way and one or two people who are not on your side can utterly ruin lives and set off an impossible spiral.

I liked the narrator for this audiobook. I have been put off before if I can’t get along with the voice but this was not one of those occasions. This was a great choice for me for my commute – it is an absorbing psychological thriller and I would recommend for anyone fancying a new read or listen!

About AA Abbott: British crime thriller writer A.A. Abbott (also known as Helen Blenkinsop) loves to escape with an exciting and emotional read, and that’s what she aims to write too. Based in Bristol, she’s also lived and worked in London and Birmingham. All three cities feature in her pacy suspense thrillers. Her latest psychological thriller, ‘Bright Lies’, begins in North Somerset with a posh art exhibition in Bath. Young Emily meets the man who will change her life and cause her to run away to a squat in Birmingham, work in a nightclub and get further entangled in a web of lies.

To write ‘Bright Lies’, Helen has had advice from thirty beta readers on subjects as varied as police procedure, drug abuse, grooming, art, music, DJing and clubbing.She’s grateful to them and to her editor, Katharine D’Souza, for making huge improvements to the story.

Helen’s earlier 5 book Trail series is a lighter read focused on a vodka business. Snow Mountain is a premium vodka made in the former Soviet Union, and its owners have blood on their hands. The saga follows the fortunes of two families running the business and what happens when they fall out with each other and with a London gangster. Glamorous heroine Kat is the girl readers love to hate at the beginning of the series, but by the last book, she has won them over. Book research for the series included prison life, hotel research and vodka. Helen especially enjoyed a tour and tasting with the helpful folk at the Chase Distillery in Herefordshire.

Like 10% of us, many of Helen’s family are dyslexic. While she is not, she wants herbooks to be enjoyed by readers with dyslexia and visual impairment too. Shepublishes her thrillers in a Large Printdyslexia-friendly edition as well as the standard paperback and Kindle versions. (You can also adjust the font on your Kindle to suit your needs.) Audiobooks are definitely on the cards – watch this space!

Helen likes speaking to book groups, business networks and social circles, and reading thrillers and short stories at live fiction events and on Zoom. If you’re a book blogger, litfest organiser, reviewer or simply adore books, she’d love to hear from you.

Helen is a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors, Bristol Fiction Writers’ Group, and Birmingham’s New Street Authors.

Find out more and get a free e-book of short stories at https://aaabbott.co.uk

#BlogTour Testosterone – Carole Hooven

From the eunuchs in the ancient royal courts of China to the booming market for so-called ‘elixirs of youth’ in nineteenth- century Europe, humans have understood that typically masculine behaviour depends on the testicles – the main source of male testosterone. Which sex has the highest rates of physical violence, hunger for status or greatest number of sexual partners? Just follow the testosterone.

While most people agree that sex differences in human behaviour exist, they disagree on the reasons. Carole Hooven shows that the science is clear: testosterone is a potent force in human society, driving the bodies and behaviour of the sexes apart, and producing a vast array of male and female behaviour. Crucially, although many sex differences are grounded in biology, this doesn’t support restrictive gender norms or patriarchal values. Acknowledging the science helps us understand how we work and relate to each other – how we express anger and love. It’s one of the first steps to building a fairer and safer society.

Testosterone is a fascinating read and very topical! I am sometimes a little suspicious of non-fiction books as sometimes they can seem inaccessible or overly dry. I think one of the strengths of Testosterone is how it is written almost conversationally and how each of the chapters are broken up into smaller sections so there is never a huge long piece of text to read. Some of the science was familiar to me (as you might hope given my degrees) and I thought it was written well, using language which would be understood by a reader who has not looked at a science book since leaving school. There is always a temptation to use a lot of jargon which can switch off readers and I thought that this was avoided well. The use of diagrams at various points also helped to make the scientific points more easily understandable. I read this book over a number of days, choosing to do a chapter at a time rather than sit and read like a novel. This suited me as each chapter really is packed with information and there is a lot to consider, muse upon and absorb so I think it is one where you might want to give yourself time rather than racing through.

Early on in the book, Carole writes about Uncomfortable Ideas and how you need to address your own opinions and set them to one side and consider the evidence to support or refute such ideas:

“in general, if you find a hypothesis distasteful, a red flag should immediately go up: there is a clear and present danger that you will discount the evidence that supports the hypothesis.”

This really resonated with me given the current social media hysteria and ‘debates’ around covid, vaccines etc etc and I think it serves as a useful reminder – just because you don’t like something doesn’t automatically mean that is is not true – you really need to separate emotion from science.

Carole writes about a lot of topical and potentially controversial issues and I think she covers them in a very considered and engaging way. There are plenty of examples cited in each chapter, some of which will be familiar to readers, but many will be new and give a fresh perspective onto old debates. There are case studies from the ancient past and the animal kingdom as well are more recent examples. Carole challenges long held and widely perpetuated myths and provides evidence to support her arguments. I think Testosterone would make a good gift for friends or relatives who enjoy science, although this is not essential, and want to learn more about this fascinating hormone!

About Carole Hooven: Carole Hooven PhD is a lecturer and co-director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. She was awarded her PhD at Harvard in 2004, and has taught at Harvard ever since. Hooven is the recipient of numerous teaching awards, and her Hormones and Behaviour class was named one of the Harvard Crimson’s ‘Top Ten Tried and True’.
You can follow her on Twitter @hoovlet

#BlogTour A Woman Made Of Snow – Elisabeth Gifford

A gorgeous, haunting, and captivating novel of a century-long family mystery in the wilds of Scotland, and one woman’s hunt for the truth.

Scotland, 1949: Caroline Gillan and her new husband Alasdair have moved back to Kelly Castle, his dilapidated family estate in the middle of nowhere. Stuck caring for their tiny baby, and trying to find her way with an opinionated mother-in-law, Caroline feels adrift, alone and unwelcome.


But when she is tasked with sorting out the family archives, Caroline discovers a century-old mystery that sparks her back to life. There is one Gillan bride who is completely unknown – no photos exist, no records have been kept – the only thing that is certain is that she had a legitimate child. Alasdair’s grandmother.

As Caroline uncovers a strange story that stretches as far as the Arctic circle, her desire to find the truth turns obsessive. And when a body is found in the grounds of the castle, her hunt becomes more than just a case of curiosity. What happened all those years ago? Who was the bride? And who is the body…?

A Woman Made of Snow is the first of Elisabeth’s books that I have read and I thoroughly enjoyed it! Set across two time periods, it tells the story of the Gillan family – past and present. We meet Caroline as she and Alasdair are starting their married life, along with their infant daughter Felicity. They are living with Alasdair’s mother, which is a struggle for Caroline, on the grounds of Kelly Castle. Caroline is restless and longs for some time alone for her family without intrusion from her well-meaning but nonetheless always there mother-in-law. The estate is in trouble and in danger of falling into the hands of a new owner which is absolutely not what the family would like. However, Caroline is offered an opportunity to delve into the family archives and find a way of solving an old mystery which may help preserve the future of the estate. We are also introduced to Charlotte and Louisa who spent their holidays at Kelly Castle following the loss of their parents. Their summers were idyllic, playing with other children and having space to roam with the castle as the backdrop. However, as they grew up, things began changing and their welcomes were no longer as warm as they once had been.

I really liked following the two stories as the chapters moved between the timelines. I felt a lot of empathy for Caroline – her life has taken an unexpected turn from her initial plans and although she is happy in many ways, there are a lot of things which are out of her control and cause frustration and upset. When we first met her she was ambitious, bright and quite forward thinking. However, life got in her way and her academic aspirations had to make way for a more domestic lifestyle. As a new mother, she is not necessarily as supported as she could be and she feels somewhat of an outsider despite being part of her husband’s family. In both timelines, there are complex relationships between children and parents, within families and within romantic relationships. It is easy in 2021 to forget how women’s freedom was limited, even within the last one hundred years and I found this interesting to read and reflect upon. I also liked how the mother son relationship was depicted across both timelines and how times may change but some of the same issues will still arise.

I found A Woman Made of Snow to be an absorbing and engrossing read. The backdrop is set well and the mystery really draws you in and keeps you guessing. A fantastic journey back in time and through Scotland, into the Arctic; you will be captivated!

About Elisabeth Gifford: Elisabeth Gifford grew up in a vicarage in the industrial Midlands. She studied French literature and world religions at Leeds University. She has a Diploma in Creative Writing from Oxford OUDCE and an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway. She is married with three children, and lives in Kingston upon Thames. A Woman Made of Snow is her fifth novel. You can find her on Twitter @elisabeth04liz

#BlogTour The Lighthouse Witches – C.J. Cooke

The brand-new chilling gothic thriller from the bestselling author . . .

Upon the cliffs of a remote Scottish island, Lòn Haven, stands a lighthouse. A lighthouse that has weathered more than storms.

Mysterious and terrible events have happened on this island. It started with a witch hunt. Now, centuries later, islanders are vanishing without explanation. Coincidence? Or curse?

Liv Stay flees to the island with her three daughters, in search of a home. She doesn’t believe in witches, or dark omens, or hauntings. But within months, her daughter Luna will be the only one of them left.

Twenty years later, Luna is drawn back to the place her family vanished. As the last sister left, it’s up to her to find out the truth . . .

But what really happened at the lighthouse all those years ago?

The Lighthouse Witches is a perfect book for anyone who wants to be creeped out during the darkening days of Autumn. Written across several time periods, Liv and her three daughters are the main characters in the story. We meet them as they arrive on the remote island of Lòn Haven where Liv has been commissioned to paint a mural in the abandoned lighthouse. There are mixed feelings about this move. Her oldest daughter Saffy is not happy – she has had a tough upbringing and upping sticks with no warning feels like the final straw. Clover and Luna, the youngest of the three, are more malleable and find distractions and entertainment on the island. Liv is desperate, she is hiding a secret which will affect everyone and running away is the only way she has to cope. However, this island also holds secrets and mysteries and although they may seem like superstition and nonsense, strange things occur which can’t easily be explained…

I very much liked the setting for this book. The island was very well described and the sense of wildness and isolation came across well. There aren’t a huge number of people to get to know outside of the main family but they are all fleshed out well and easy to picture. There is a sense of dread which flows through the story and kept up the tension. I wasn’t sure how the plot would go and I enjoyed finding out more as I read. I particularly enjoyed the movement through different times as well as the extracts from the grimoire and found this worked well to keep me guessing about what would happen.

This is definitely the season to be curling up with a gothic style thriller and if you enjoy a bit of a scare mixed in with a good story then this is the book for you!!

About C.J. Cooke: C.J. Cooke is an acclaimed, award-winning poet, novelist and academic with numerous other publications written under the name of Carolyn Jess-Cooke. Her work has been published in twenty- three languages to date. Born in Belfast, C.J. has a PhD in Literature from Queen’s University, Belfast, and is currently Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow, where she researches creative writing interventions for mental health. C.J. Cooke lives in Glasgow with her husband and four children. She also founded the Stay-At-Home Festival.

#BlogTour The Rabbit Factor – Antti Tuomainen – Translated by David Hackston

Award-winning author Antti Tuomainen launches his first series with The Rabbit Factor, an energetic black comedy, currently being adapted for the screen by Amazon/Mandeville Films with Steve Carell to star, and Antti executive producing.

What makes life perfect? Insurance mathematician Henri Koskinen knows the answer because he calculates everything down to the very last decimal. Until he is faced with the incalculable, after a series of unforeseeable events.

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 some dangerous men who are very keen to get their money back.

All improbable and complicated problems. But what Henri really can’t compute is love. In the adventure park, Henri crosses paths with Laura, a happy-go-lucky artist with a chequered past, whose erratic lifestyle bewilders him. As the criminals go to increasingly 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…

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Rabbit Factor but I was curious after reading the blurb and absolutely loved the bold cover so was very keen to join the #blogtour and find out more. Well, I absolutely loved this book. The introduction is fast paced and tense yet quite comical and this sets the scene well for what is to come. Henri is most definitely not your standard lead character. He is an actuary and loves logic and order. When his work environment starts to change for the worse, he finds himself no longer able to continue and in a bizarre turn of events, he is suddenly the owner of an adventure park (never to be confused with an amusement park). Sadly the park isn’t particularly thriving and the general chaos surrounding it are very much out of Henri’s comfort zone. Still, despite this, he rolls up his sleeves and sets to work trying to make sense of the bizarre situation. However, there are a few outstanding debts which need to be repaid and with these debts come the muscle to make sure that they are not forgotten. Still Henri is able to put his mathematical mind to work and try to create order and problem solve his way through each crisis in a hilarious fashion, no matter what is thrown at him.

I really liked the humour in The Rabbit Factor. The whole situation is totally odd and rather farcical but it makes for a very amusing and engaging read. I was really pleased to see that it is going to be made into a film as I think it will work really well! Henri is perfectly written. He applies sense to ever situation and preserves even when things seem like they are getting to far out of hand to be recoverable! I liked how he was a little quirky and very much not the sort of person you might imagine to run an adventure park, let alone to take on the underworld. I like how was saw his softer side as well as his more analytical and slightly more reserved sides.

The employees of the park were really well written and added well to the general haphazardness of the business. They all had their own times to come forward within the story and add to the plot and I could well imagine the motley crew as they pitched up, or not, each day.

The Rabbit Factor is quite different to most other books I have read and I think that it would be enjoyed by a wide range of readers. It’s not a serious book but one which will make you laugh and keep you hooked as you read. One to cheer you up on the approaching darker days!

About Antti Tuomainen: 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. A TV adaptation is in the works, and Jussi Vatanen (Man In Room 301) has just been announced as a leading role. Palm Beach Finland was an immense success, with Marcel Berlins (The Times) calling Tuomainen ‘the funniest writer in Europe’. His latest thriller, Little Siberia, 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. In total, Antti Tuomainen has been short- and longlisted for 12 UK awards.