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  1. The Secret Voices (A Cora Lael Mystery Book 1) by M J. White

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    "They said they'd keep me safe. They said, 'It's okay, Hannah. You know you can trust me.' They lied.

    When eight-year-old Hannah Perry goes missing in the small Suffolk village of St Just, the community is rocked. Heading up the investigation is Acting DS Rob Minshull, but he's out of his depth in an investigation full of dead ends. As the kidnapper taunts the police with deliveries of Hannah's belongings and cryptic notes, her life hangs perilously in danger.

    Until Dr Cora Lael enters the picture. A psychologist with a unique ability, Cora's rare gift allows her to sense emotions attached to discarded objects. When she is shown the first of Hannah's belongings, she hears the child's piercing scream.

    With few leads on the case, could Cora prove Hannah's only hope? And as time runs out, can they find Hannah before an unimaginable tragedy occurs...?

    A twisty, original and utterly gripping detective thriller. Don't miss the crime thriller debut from the bestselling women's fiction author, Miranda Dickinson.

    My Review

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    I’ve known about this story through Miranda’s weekly chat Facebook page group, where I was lucky enough hear the early chapters read by the author herself.  This was a story she had written years ago but it had not found it’s publisher yet. If you follow me on social media you’ll know Miranda is one of my favourite authors and her books are always heartfelt, uplifting and the kind that will make you laugh as well as making you shed a tear sometimes too. As a crime thriller, The Secret Voices was a totally different genre to Miranda’s other books, but as soon as she read the first chapter, the whole group became silent (and it’s a really chatty group) as we listened to what we knew it was something special. We later got to celebrate when this book was picked up by a Hera Books and fast forward to the present time, I’m here reading and reviewing this story.*Miranda Dickinson writing as MJ. White.

    It starts off with an eight year old child going missing and then brilliantly combines everything that happens thereafter in a small community. We follow the dark path of events mainly told through the voices of Hannah Perry, psychologist Dr Cora Lael and Acting DS Rob Minshull.

    When the powers that be at South Suffolk Police department bring in Acting DS Rob Minshull to head up the search, this causes some discontent in the unit, and it's further worsened by the police failure to solve a similar case seven years prior. But there’s office banter and things like putting salt instead of sugar in the newbie's tea to help balance and add a smile at times in what is a dark story.

    Dr Cora Lael, a psychologist with a rare gift of picking up on emotions and feelings by touching objects is brought in (in secret) to help with the investigation once an item of Hannah’s is sent to the station. For Cora, her ability often reduces her to experience life as an outsider, only ever looking in. It’s a curse she never wished for but working on this case may help her to see it as a gift. It’s all done in such a realistic way that drives the plot without relying on make believe or fantastical story-telling.

    *If you're interested, check out conditions like Synaesthesia, a rare neurological phenomenon where a small percentage of the population have the ability to taste words.

    Rob is standoffish with Cora at first (and it takes him a while to warm up to his own unit too) but as the story develops we get to see his real character shine through and there’s touching and frustrating moments between the two. Hannah’s voice lends a vital element to the story that makes it all the more real and sometimes chilling. 

    If you’ve watched police procedural dramas (like The Bill, Ashes to Ashes etc) you’ll see the similarities in police story telling unfolding, but in book form you’ll also gain extra insight through the direct thoughts of Minshull and other members of the CID unit. As well as moving the investigation along, Cora’s special ability adds an original twist to the story. I loved the insight into how she felt emotions when touching objects and her surprise when she heard Hannah’s voice for the first time. If, like me, you love following and solving mysteries you’ll be caught up in the investigation and trying to find out who the kidnapper is. There’s a few clues peppered throughout the book and some I picked up on at the time but I still couldn’t guess correctly.

    The Silent Voices is a detective thriller with a gripping plotline that draws you in as you fall down a dark and twisted path while still hoping for a happy ending. As always, Miranda captures her characters perfectly on the page -  especially Hannah’s vulnerability and resilience, Cora’s character development of herself and her gift and the complexiting of different people working towards a common goal. I can’t wait to read about Dr Cora Lael in the next book.

    A big 5 stars from me! istockphoto-1306258842-170667a

    Thank you to everyone who has stopped by – I hope you have enjoyed my review.  Please check out the informaton below for where to buy this book and more about the author!

    Where to buy this book

    The Silent Voices is available at most online book sellers including the following

    Waterstones

    E-book on Amazon

    The Secret Voices Signed Book Box as seen below

    IMG_7923 The Secret Voices by MJ White

    Click here for more buying options and author links

    Etsy Shop for books and book related merch can be found here

    About the author

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    MJ White is the pen name of million-copy selling Sunday Times bestselling author, Miranda Dickinson. Her debut crime series featuring Dr Cora Lael begins with The Secret Voices. A huge fan of crime fiction and particularly police procedurals, Miranda wrote The Secret Voices largely in secret and is chuffed now to finally share Cora, Acting DS Rob Minshull and the detectives of South Suffolk CID with the world! Miranda is also the host of weekly Facebook live show Fab Night In Chatty Thing - and it was reading extracts of The Secret Voices for her viewers that convinced her and her agent to send out the book to publishers. Miranda is delighted to be published by Hera Books and promises more thrilling adventures for Dr Cora Lael to come…

    Follow Miranda @wurdsmyth on Twitter and Instagram and also her dedicated MJ White twitter account @MJWhite13.

    Follow Miranda's vlog at www.youtube.com/mirandawurdy and visit her website: miranda-dickinson.com

    You can also follow Miranda on Twitter @wurdsmyth, on Instagram @wurdsmyth and on Facebook: MirandaDickinsonAuthor

  2. Midnight in Everwood by M. A. Kuzniar - Book Review & HQStories Tour

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    In the darkness of night, magic awaits…

    Nottingham, 1906

    Marietta Stelle longs to be a ballerina but, as Christmas draws nearer, her dancing days are numbered – she must marry and take up her place in society in the New Year. But, when a mysterious toymaker, Dr Drosselmeier, purchases a neighbouring townhouse, it heralds the arrival of magic and wonder in Marietta’s life.

    After Drosselmeier constructs an elaborate theatrical set for her final ballet performance on Christmas Eve, Marietta discovers it carries a magic all of its own – a magic darker than anyone could imagine. As the clock chimes midnight, Marietta finds herself transported from her family’s ballroom to a frozen sugar palace, silent with secrets, in a forest of snow-topped fir trees. She must find a way to return home before she’s trapped in Everwood’s enchanting grip forever.

    In the darkness of night, magic awaits and you will never forget what you find here…

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    My Review

    Highlighted as a retelling of The Nutcracker, but offering a new story in its own right, it has everything you want in a book! Beautiful prose, wonderful story-telling, mystical magical elements, a mysterious toymaker and a wonderful protagonist in a young ballerina called Marietta! The latter is held back from fulfilling her dreams to be a ballerina by a controlling father who expects her to marry, settle down and become a dutiful wife. Enter the mysterious Dr Drosselmeier, toy maker extraordinaire with tempting magical talents beyond your wildest dreams! He's a charmer and used to getting his way...

    Set to star in her last allowed ballet performance on Christmas Eve, Marietta soon finds herself trapped in the clutches of Everwood! I was captivated by this beautiful magical world of sugar and spice and all things nice, balanced with things a little darker and deadly. 

    There's gorgeous gingerbread apartments,a decadent palace held within iced sugar walls sure to please the biggest sweet tooth! Marietta is now able to pirouette her way through all the dances and balls held in Everland! This all sounds marvellous except for an evil controlling King (Gelum - the villain I loved to hate) with an army of  faceless soldiers and the dangerous shadowy paths surrounding Everwood! Despite this we see a strong female sisterhood form between Marietta and the other women held captive. Marietta also finds herself falling in love against all odds and learns that she's braver than she thought possible! What happens when the fallen take a stand? Can a ruthless ruler be stopped? Can Marietta get back to her world? Would she want to? These were questions I was asking myself as I wondered how this story would end, and although it came too soon, it was the perfect ending with a cherry on top!

    I adored this whimsical dark and gothic historical fantasy! Set in a winter backdrop on Christmas Eve, it's the perfect winter read (for any time of year but especially colder months)!

    It's a full 5 stars from me!

    I received an arc from HQ stories (thank you). The view are my own views and opinions about the book. I loved it so much I purchased the Waterstones edition.

    Where to buy this book

    Amazon

    Waterstones 

    Thank you to everyone who has stopped by – I hope you have enjoyed my review.  Please check out the rest of this blog tour for more thoughts and reviews about this book!

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  3. * Gild by Raven Kennedy * Review and tour with Love Books Group

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    Blurb

    By bestselling author Raven Kennedy, comes the first book in a stunning new fantasy series, perfect for fans of Sarah J Maas and Jennifer L Armentrout.

    The fae abandoned this world to us. And the ones with power rule.

    Gold.

    Gold floors, gold walls, gold furniture, gold clothes. In Highbell, in the castle built into the frozen mountains, everything is made of gold.

    Even me.

    King Midas rescued me. Dug me out of the slums and placed me on a pedestal. I’m called his precious. His favored. I’m the woman he Gold-Touched to show everyone that I belong to him. To show how powerful he is. He gave me protection, and I gave him my heart. And even though I don’t leave the confines of the palace, I’m safe.

    Until war comes to the kingdom and a deal is struck.

    Suddenly, my trust is broken. My love is challenged. And I realize that everything I thought I knew about Midas might be wrong.

    Because these bars I’m kept in, no matter how gilded, are still just a cage. But the monsters on the other side might make me wish I’d never left.

    The myth of King Midas reimagined. This compelling adult fantasy series is as addictive as it is unexpected. With romance, intrigue, and danger, the gilded world of Orea will grip you from the very first page.

    My Review

    Gild is the first instalment of this adult fantasy trilogy by Raven Kennedy. The synopsis lets us know that it's a reimagining of of the story of King Midas but I felt that it was also an original story in its own right too.  

    The story is set within Orea and it's six kingdoms. King Midas is known as the one who sits on the throne of the sixth kingdom that can turn things or persons into gold. The main protagonist Auren is gold-touched - almost everything about her is gold - even the cage she's bound in. As his most treasured she's placed above his other 'saddles' who are there to commit to his every whim and pleasure, but a cage is still a cage.  In the beginning, Auren thinks herself in love with the King and he with her (despite him marrying another for the title and power).  She thinks he's her saviour, but their relationship read's more like the stockholm syndrome kind.

    As the story develops Auren finds that maybe he's not her knight in shining armour after all and a lot of internal struggles follows as she tries to justify his terrible behaviour. 

    The first page jumps straight in to remind you that it's an adult fantasy, that is sometimes raw, with sexually explicit and non-consensual elements in its story-telling. *Please read the trigger warnings for more details. 

    The earlier parts of the story introduces you to the main characters and their wonderful golden dipped world in all it's glory as you begin to see the cracks behind the glamour. Warring kingdoms, espionage with power hungry and lust filled kings, some ready to bargain and trade for the gold-touched one. The story speeds up the pace midway through and suddenly you find yourself in the middle of an adventure from land taken to the high seas with rough pirates, mysterious creatures and fae.  

    The introduction to the fae, their world and little descriptions of different magical elements appearing in characters was one of my favourite aspects of this story. Also seeing Auren's character develop from is another aspect and I'm sure there are some more surprises in store with her. There's also a potential love interest which I won't say anything else about because of spoilers.

    The story felt a little too short but there was lots of twists and surprises to keep it interesting and I'm looking forward to reading the next part in the series. You just feel like this was the start of something big and I can't wait for the fae and human world to collide!

    Please Note: This book contains explicit content and darker elements, including mature language, violence, and non-consensual sex. It is not intended for anyone under 18 years of age. This is book one in a series.

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    Where to buy this book

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gild-Plated-Prisoner-Book-1-ebook/dp/B08HJDG47W

    Thank you to Love Books Tour for the ARC. I was #gifted this book in exchange for an honest review.

    Thank you to everyone who has stopped by – I hope you have enjoyed my review.  Please check out the rest of this blog tour for more thoughts and reviews about this book!

     

  4. The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus by Jaime Jo Wright  

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    * The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus by Jaime Jo Wright * Review and tour with Love Books Group

    Synopsis

    1928

    The Bonaventure Circus is a refuge for many, but Pippa Ripley was rejected from its inner circle as a baby. When she receives mysterious messages from someone called the "Watchman," she is determined to find him and the connection to her birth. As Pippa's search leads her to a man seeking justice for his murdered sister and evidence that a serial killer has been haunting the circus train, she must decide if uncovering her roots is worth putting herself directly in the path of the killer.

    Present Day
    The old circus train depot will either be torn down or preserved for historical importance, and its future rests on real estate project manager Chandler Faulk's shoulders. As she dives deep into the depot's history, she's also balancing a newly diagnosed autoimmune disease and the pressures of single motherhood. When she discovers clues to the unsolved murders of the past, Chandler is pulled into a story far darker and more haunting than even an abandoned train depot could portend.

    My Review

    I was so intrigued when I saw the synopsis for this book - with the tale of Bonaventure Circus and a mysterious 'Watchman' it gave me Phantom of the Opera vibes, gothic murder mystery, dual linked timelines and also featured two very different protagonists each facing their own battles and fears, but were similar in that both had disabilities that affected the way they were perceived in the world!

    Meet Pippa - often overlooked, ignored and left feeling like she doesn't fit in. She's also trapped within the confines of being a woman in the 1920s. We follow her journey and her connection with the mysterious stranger and watch as she finds her voice, female empowerment as well as uncovering some terrible secrets. In contrast, Chandler has the benefits that comes with being a woman in more modern times but still faces similar battles (some tied into her autoimmune disease) with having to fight for her job, her independence and being a single mother. With Chandler, we see how having a chronic illness affects her everyday life and how she tries to hide it. She closes herself off as a way of protecting herself and finds it hard to accept help whether from family or the townspeople.

    Both characters have love interests who play a part in the story, secrets and mystery but I liked Pippa's character and her interaction (I won't name with who) the most.

    On taking on the project of the Circus depot, Chandler finds herself quickly dragged into it's mystery, danger and hidden secrets from the past. All of which link back to a series of horrible events that occurred during Pippa's time. Pippa also puts herself in danger by meeting up with the Watchman as she seeks to find out the truth about her past.

    The ending was a bit rushed for me compared to the rest of the book but the story kept me intrigued right up until the end and I loved the aspect of the dual timelines going back and forth as each clue was discovered or wrapped up. Old towns and hidden secrets really brought this book alive and both story timelines build up to a thrilling end.

    CW: Some outdated terms are used for describing disabilities.

    Note: This book is listed as Christian fiction - I didn't find that this was a main feature of the book. It came through in the voices of some of the characters when discussing their faith, and questions about whether what was happening was related to the supernatural.

    The Haunting of Bonaventure Circus - Twitter

    Author Bio

    Jaime Jo Wright is the author of five novels, including Christy Award winner The House on Foster Hill and Carol Award winner The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond. She's also the Publishers Weekly and ECPA bestselling author of two novellas. Jaime lives in Wisconsin with her cat named Foo, her husband Cap'n Hook, and their littles, Peter Pan, and CoCo. To learn more, visit www.jaimewrightbooks.com

    Where to buy this book

    https://amzn.to/3bzX8UU

    Thank you to Love Books Tour for the ARC. I was #gifted this book in exchange for an honest review.

    Thank you to everyone who has stopped by – I hope you have enjoyed my review.  Please check out the rest of this blog tour for more thoughts and reviews about this book!