Saturday, March 31, 2018

Book Review: If I Die Tonight by Alison Gaylin

If I Die Tonight

by Alison Gaylin

 Paperback: 384 pages

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks 

Reminiscent of the bestsellers of Laura Lippman and Harlan Coben—with a dose of Big Little Lies or Stranger Things—an absorbing, addictive tale of psychological suspense from the author of the highly acclaimed and Edgar Award-nominated What Remains of Me and the USA Today bestselling and Shamus Award-winning Brenna Spector series, in which a seemingly open-and-shut police case with a clear-cut hero and villain turns out to be anything but simple.

Late one night in the quiet Hudson Valley town of Havenkill, a distraught woman stumbles into the police station—and lives are changed forever.

Aimee En, once a darling of the ’80s pop music scene, claims that a teenage boy stole her car, then ran over another young man who’d rushed to help.

As Liam Miller’s life hangs in the balance, the events of that fateful night begin to come into focus. But is everything as it seems?

The case quickly consumes social media, transforming Liam, a local high school football star, into a folk hero, and the suspect, a high school outcast named Wade Reed, into a depraved would-be killer. But is Wade really guilty? And if he isn’t, why won’t he talk?

Told from a kaleidoscope of viewpoints—Wade’s mother Jackie, his younger brother Connor, Aimee En and Pearl Maze, a young police officer with a tragic past, If I Die Tonight is a story of family ties and dark secrets—and the lengths we’ll go to protect ourselves.

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

Nobody’s perfect… What gets us in trouble is when we try and pretend we are.

The bartender at Club Halifax was wearing flannel Snoopy pajama pants and a skintight tank top with a cannabis-leaf pattern.  Yet still she was overdressed for this dismal place, which smelled of mold and decades-old cigarette smoke – an asthma attack waiting to happen.

I dated a guy once who wanted to know how far drive it was from Miami to Florida… He also thought Rosetta Stone was a civil rights leader.  Thank God he was cute.

Mason Marx was short and squat, with mean little pig eyes and the personality of bad cheese.

… Jackie could not stand that mustache.  Her eyes were drawn to it whenever Wacksman spoke, so thick and luxuriant she couldn’t help but imagine him grooming it, using a tiny tortoiseshell comb and a rack of imported oils as though it were a pet.

I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me… Such a strange expression – as though the heart were a messy closet you dug around in, forgiveness stashed in some long forgotten shoe box. 

My Review:

If I Die Tonight initially appeared to be a slowly developing tale of family drama with a divorced single mother raising two teenage boys, one of which appeared deeply troubled and even more so when a tragic fatality struck the small town and it seemed a foregone conclusion that the troubled youth was involved.  The characters were not immediately likable or admirable so it wasn’t a tale I was instantly sucked into, yet it held my attention and continued to draw me in.  Notice I said initially, it wasn’t until the plot exploded with a confluence of twist after twist that I appreciated the subtlety and care the author had taken in crafting and planting the various elements of several mysteries that compounded and converged.  The buildup was incremental and deftly devised, like a spider weaving a web. It was ingenious.  I was so wrong in my hypothesis and would never have suspected the end result, and I was more than thrilled with the satisfying conclusion and reading experience.   The stealthy and clever wordsmith Alison Gaylin has a new fangirl. 

Empress DJ

About Alison Gaylin

Alison Gaylin is the award-winning author of Hide Your Eyes and its sequel, You Kill Me; the standalones Trashed and Heartless; and the Brenna Spector series: And She Was, Into the Dark, and Stay with Me. A graduate of Northwestern University and of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, she lives with her husband and daughter in Woodstock, New York.

Find out more about Alison at her website, friend her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Book Review: Surrender My Heart (Caught Up in Love #3) by L. G. O’Connor

Surrender My Heart

(Caught Up in Love - Book 3)

by L. G. O’Connor

Publisher: Collins-Young Publishing LLC (February 6, 2018)

Follow up to the 2017 Kindle Scout Winner, Shelter My Heart

Do you remember your first love in high school? What if you never stopped?

For decades, Katherine “Kitty” McNally has secretly loved John Henshaw, the man lying shot and unconscious in the hospital bed next to her. Then again, maybe not so secretly. Those closest to her, including her soon-to-be ex-husband, have suspected it for years. Their story ended with a gunshot wound the last time, too. Life seems to have taken her full circle, but only the dead know the secrets she still keeps.

Detective John Henshaw fell in love with his “Kat” the moment she became his geometry tutor in high school. When they graduated, he thought their future was sealed. Wrong. Enter life’s nonstop curveballs. The worst two moments of his life were the two times he lost Kat. After thirty-five years and one failed marriage trying to forget her, he can’t escape the fact that he’s never stopped loving her. Maybe it’s just his ego, but he could swear he sees a spark of love in her eyes every time she looks at him. That’s what keeps him in the New Jersey town that holds his most painful memories. That’s why he accepted his place decades ago as a family friend to the McNally sisters.

As John recovers from his injuries in Kitty’s care, she has one last chance to confront her past and rekindle their love–if John can forgive her once he learns the truth.
“OMG! Wonderful, heartwrenching and intense story!” ~VIP Reader

“Nicholas Sparks meets Colleen Hoover in dual timeline love story that will leave you breathless!” ~VIP Book Club Reader

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

Someone once asked me what I’d tell myself if I could go back in time. I wouldn’t say anything. I’d be too busy kicking my own ass from here to kingdom come for making the wrong choices. For thinking life would always be as good as it was when I was eighteen.

“Great job, Kitty!” says the overly friendly instructor. “You did awesome for your first class.” I give her a tight smile and try to ignore the fact that I’m saturated and most assuredly going to wake up crippled tomorrow… They barely broke a sweat and look like fresh-cut flowers in their stylish weekend wear. I hate them.

Being this close to Kat and not being able to touch her makes me feel like I’m dying of hunger in front of a locked refrigerator.

In the end, I made the best of the worst choices for all of us.

Sometimes you gotta surrender your heart and go all in. That’s what I’m doing. With us. One life, Kat. That’s all we’ve got.

My Review:

I adored this book and resented each and every interruption to my rapt perusal, and I should be ashamed to admit… I may have hissed at and ignored the ringing phone. This was my virgin voyage with L.G. O’Connor but I plan to haunt her listings from now on, she is a gifted scribe, a master storyteller, and my new favorite - even though she gutted me.  The writing and storylines were simply superb, addictive, and well-crafted.  I instantly fell in and remained immersed in Ms. O’Connor’s emotive and richly textured writing style, which featured my favorite dual POV and covered the characters’ history through three different timelines which each involved an epic, sensual, and bone-deep love for a soulmate, bad timing, family drama, betrayal, horrendous luck, and heartbreaking tragedy.   Despite the sound of all that, the emotional tone was thoughtfully paced, deeply moving, and well-balanced without being overly angsty.  I was engaged and intrigued throughout this heart-squeezing book with the only possible improvement being a longer epilogue as I didn’t want to say goodbye to the characters just yet, but I’m greedy like that.

Empress DJ

About L. G. O’Connor

LG O’Connor is a corporate marketing exec by day who takes her author cape out at night. An avid reader, she loves books with memorable characters that make her heart sing. She’s the author of the urban fantasy / paranormal romance series, The Angelorum Twelve Chronicles, and Caught Up in RAINE, her contemporary romantic women’s fiction debut. Shelter My Heart (a Kindle Scout Winner) is the second novel in her romantic women’s fiction series, Caught Up in Love, a series which follows three women in the same family on their road to redemption and a second chance at love. A native ‘Jersey Girl,’ she’s always in search of the perfect cup of coffee and fine Italian leather. Her perfect hero always keeps the heroine fed. You can find her new book, Recipes from Raine’s Roost (which first appeared on Joyce Lamb’s USA TODAY Happy Ever After blog), by Caught Up in RAINE hero, Raine MacDonald, on Amazon under the Cooking & Wine section.

As an avid book lover, she enjoys connecting with readers.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Book Review, Giveaway: Misadventures with my Roommate by Elizabeth Hayley

Misadventures with my Roommate
by Elizabeth Hayley

Releases: 27th March





Blake Monroe hasn’t had the easiest life, but she’s never been one to dwell on her misfortunes, preferring to see the world as a place where you get what you give.

Having had an especially troubling childhood, Blake’s aware she doesn’t exactly fit the definition of “normal.” Her lack of filter, dry sense of humor, and uncanny ability to read people make her rather unique—and difficult to live with. When her latest roommate has had enough of her antics, Blake decides living with a man might suit her better.

Gavin Gibson’s a dreamer whose artsy aspirations don’t meet the high expectations of his wealthy family. Cast off and cut off, Gavin needs a place to live. When he’s invited to share Blake’s quaint apartment, he cannot pass it up. With a knack for spotting the good in others, Gavin can see past Blake’s quirks—and neither of them can ignore their sexual chemistry.

As sparks fly, their genuine affection for each other grows, and Gavin begins to break down Blake’s defenses. But can Blake open up to reveal the damage she’s worked so hard to conceal?

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

Blake instantly grew wary of this woman who looked like the fate of everyone she encountered that day depended on whether or not she got a giant container of coffee— though it made Blake feel a bit like a superhero barista. With this one order, she would be saving this woman’s coworkers from being murdered with office supplies.

I don’t think my brain has room for all of this. I’ve been a bartender for four years, and I still don’t remember how to make most of the drinks. I just throw whatever in a glass, and people know better than to complain.

Celeste had recommended Blake refer to herself as eccentric instead of saying she was “batshit crazy,” which was off-putting. Go figure.

He’d first noticed the odd choice in tile earlier in the day when he was talking to Blake and Celeste but had decided not to ask Blake why she’d chosen to decorate a place where people ate with tiles depicting silhouettes of people posing in various Kama Sutra positions. The fact that he found himself hoping she planned to finish the remaining few square feet alarmed him slightly.

Even as a child, her life was like a Dr. Seuss book of psychiatric professionals.

My Review:

I loved this delightfully clever and smartly crafted book.  I smirked, giggled-snorted, and even barked aloud more than a few times at the delightfully off-beat, odd, intensely amusing, and wickedly clever yet shameless utterances and thoughts that flittered through Blake’s rather zany and unfettered brain.  She appeared unhindered by concerns for social conventions and tended to blurt out her vividly colorful thoughts and frank observations, which were often on-point yet prone to be irreverent, painfully blunt, socially inappropriate, and outrageously comical.  I initially wondered whether she may have some sort of developmental or brain damage, yet she was also verbose and uncannily observant and witty, as well as wildly imaginative and clever in her inner musing and fantasies. I adored her as well as the hapless and befuddled Gavin Gibson, who was as drawn and consumed by the enigmatic Blake as I was.  Blake rattled him and sucked him into her vortex of unpredictability, sensuality, and addictively compelling attraction; which was the best thing that ever happened to the both of them.  This was my first exposure to the brilliant team of Elizabeth Hayley and I was an instant fangirl and convert for their cult.  I greedily want all their rave-worthy and delightfully clever arrangements of words.  

Empress DJ

Buy the Book

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Meet the Authors

Elizabeth Hayley is actually "Elizabeth" and "Hayley," two friends who love reading romance novels to obsessive levels. This mutual love prompted them to put their English degrees to good use by penning their own. The product is Pieces of Perfect, their debut novel. They learned a ton about one another through the process, like how they clearly share a brain and have a persistent need to text each other constantly (much to their husbands' chagrin).
"Elizabeth" lives with her husband, daughter, and nutjob of a dog. "Hayley" lives with her husband, son, and her own crazy dog. Thankfully, their children are still too young to read.

Elizabeth Hayley's writing motto is best captured by the words of Patrick Dennis: "I always start with a clean piece of paper and a dirty mind."

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Find all books in the Misadventures Series here: The Misadventures Series 

Monday, March 26, 2018

Book Review: One Hundred Heartbeats by Kelly Collins

One Hundred Heartbeats

by Kelly Collins 


Kindle Scout Winner Kelly Collins welcomes you back to Aspen Cove, the tiny Colorado town where fresh starts, hope, and true love live…

Katie Middleton knows what it’s like to stare death in the face. Growing up with a serious heart defect stopped her from really living. Now that she has a new heart, she’s determined not to miss out on anything wonderful ever again. Escaping her overprotective parents and opening a bakery in Aspen Cove, Katie starts crossing items off her bucket list as quickly as she can. The one item that she’s not sure she’ll ever check off however, is falling in love. That is until Bowie Bishop appears before her.

When a car accident took his high school sweetheart, Bowie Bishop was sure he’d never love again. He disappeared from Aspen Cove to join the Army (it’s army, yes? Not marines?), then spent nearly ten years in active combat risking his life to save others. Now that an injury has forced him to retire, he finds himself in the last place he wants to be—back home. He’s determined to take off as soon as he can, but when a cute, sassy little blonde catches his eye, he’s not so sure he’ll be able to leave Aspen Cove.

Just when Katie knows for sure that her heart will only ever beat for Bowie, she discovers a secret from her past that will shake the foundation of their new relationship to the core. Will the truth tear them apart or will they find salvation in each other’s arms?

Find out now in One Hundred Heartbeats!

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

Sage liked her coffee laced with electricity, whereas Katie chose the heart-healthy option of decaffeinated.

She’d always considered herself a patient person, but her mom could try a saint on Sunday.

I’m okay. In fact, I’m finer than frog hair split seven ways.

Dalton’s no bad boy. He’s like Bambi with testosterone.

“I’ve been to war multiple times. I can’t imagine this is worse or different.” She wanted to tell him he was being silly, but his description was spot on. With seven kids to watch, there was no doubt there would be battles won and lost over the next three hours… Jill ran toward Bowie and threw herself into his arms. Big crocodile tears ran down her cheeks. “David tore off my Barbie’s head.” She lifted a decapitated doll to his face. Bowie’s lost expression told her this was worse than war.

My Review:

I adore Kelly Collins’s sweet and steamy stories.  Her writing is always a pleasurable read for me with a good balance of emotive storytelling, humor, steam, and insightful observations.  One Hundred Heartbeats was written in my favorite dual POV with deeply endearing and lovable characters.  The storylines were interesting, relevant, realistic, and artfully detailed for all the senses.  I smiled, smirked, my through and sighed contentedly at the sweet HEA.  I will be eagerly awaiting book three of this entertaining and heartwarming series.  

Empress DJ


Kelly Collins writes with the intention of keeping the love alive.

Always a romantic, she is inspired by real-time events mixed with a dose of fiction. She encourages her readers to reach the happily ever after but bask in the afterglow of the perfectly imperfect love.

Kelly lives in Colorado with her husband of twenty-five years. She loves hockey, shiny objects and has a new-found appreciation for green smoothies.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Book Review: Our Last First Kiss (Heartbreak Hotel Book 1) by Christie Ridgway

Our Last First Kiss
(Heartbreak Hotel Book 1)

by Christie Ridgway 

Welcome to the famed resort, The Hathaway at Dragonfly Beach, where newlyweds come to honeymoon, where anniversary couples celebrate milestones, and where broken hearts find a place to heal. 

After her best friend is jilted at the altar, maid of honor Lilly Durand whisks the bride to Dragonfly Beach and its legendary hotel, determined to help her overcome her misery. Lilly won’t admit it, but she’s hurting too. During the few days of pre-wedding festivities, a powerful attraction had grown between her and the handsome and confident best man, Alec Thatcher. Now she’ll never see him again, but she’s decided to consider that a good thing. This way her inconvenient crush can’t turn into something so dangerous as love. But then, to her dismay, she discovers Alec is just a room key away at what some call the Heartbreak Hotel.

Alec Thatcher doesn’t have the time or inclination for long-term romance. Serial dating has suited his confirmed-bachelor status just fine—until he meets Lilly Durand and his world turns on its axis. She claims to be as relationship-averse as he, but when the two of them are together he can’t recall his own reasons against commitment. Though Lilly touches his heart and soul, she’s as cautious as she is sexy. With a stubborn streak a mile long, Alec will have to exert all his powers of persuasion to give Lilly her last first kiss...

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

No expert on male attractiveness, Alec had to take his sister’s word for it that Jacob was what she termed a “California dime.” Jojo used a bunch of weird-ass lingo possibly understood only by herself, but he was told it meant a ten on the apparently higher, California scale of handsomeness.

Alec attended every one of Barbie’s funerals I ever organized, after Simon declared them lost causes post-surgery… Well, except for that time Simon pronounced Ken hadn’t survived an appendectomy. Alec said he refused to even pretend-mourn for a guy who came into the world without a dick... Simon said that’s why he hadn’t attempted any heroic measures to save the doll. Dick-less, he informed us, meant an automatic do not resuscitate.

I think you should let me be something to you. I want you to be something to me.

…they swayed together to some old tune that made her think of black-and-white movies and the kind of love that survived wartime separation and bouts of tap-dancing.

My Review:

I enjoyed this wittily amusing book as I have other Christy Ridgway book, I adore her clever humor and entertaining storylines that always manage to squeeze my heart in one paragraph then incite a smirk or a smile in the next.  I was drawn to all the characters as well as the featured couple.  Lilly and Alec had both known tragedy and were endearingly flawed and appealing characters to root for.  I enjoyed their romance and look forward to more adventures at the lovely resort that had earned the myth of being the Heartbreak Hotel. 

Empress DJ

About the Author

Goodreads   Amazon

Christie Ridgway is the author of over 60 novels of contemporary romance. All her books are both sexy and emotional and tell about heroes and heroines who learn to believe in the power of love. A USA Today bestseller, Christie is a six-time RITA finalist and has won best contemporary romance of the year and career achievement awards from Romantic Times Book Reviews.

A native of California, Christie now resides in the southern part of the state with her family. Inspired by the beaches, mountains, and cities that surround her, she writes tales of sunny days and steamy nights

Friday, March 23, 2018

Book Review: The Haunting of Hattie Hastings (Parts 1 & 2) by Audrey Davis

The Haunting of Hattie Hastings 

(Part One)

by Audrey Davis 

Amazon US / UK

Some people just won't take death lying down …!

Part one of a fun-filled but moving romantic comedy about life, death and letting go.
Hattie Hastings is happily married, even if husband Gary drives her up the wall at times. When tragedy strikes, she is left alone and heartbroken, with only an assortment of family and friends to prop her up.

Struggling to cope, she is left reeling when her deceased other half returns to haunt her, popping up at the most inappropriate times, with an unorthodox way of flagging his arrival.

Hattie struggles to convince anyone that Gary has returned. Not even her best friend, Cat – now free from the cruel and controlling Stewart – will believe her story.

Why has Gary returned? Will he allow Hattie to find happiness again, or will he stand in the way of any future romance? And what will Cat do when her slimy ex-husband tries to worm his way back into her affections?

The Haunting of Hattie Hastings 
(Part Two)

by Audrey Davis

Amazon US / UK

The story continues … Hattie is used to her deceased husband Gary dropping in and out of her life. His timing might not always be great, but at least he's still around. Although – when Hattie tentatively tries a spot of dating – his interference isn't entirely welcome.

Best friend Cat is lapping up her new relationship with teacher Jamie, but ex-husband Stewart isn't prepared to fade into the background.

Hattie's mother Rachel faces a daunting battle, one she doesn't want to burden family and friends with. But there's someone waiting in the wings who might be more than a shoulder to cry on.

Gary still doesn't know what his mission on earth is, and spirit guide Clarence isn't offering any clues? Will an encounter with another provide him with answers, or put Hattie in an impossible situation?
Prepare for more laughs and tears in the second installment of a trilogy which takes a darkly comic look at life … and the afterlife.

Warning: Cliffhanger ending

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

Part 1 

Hattie kept one eye firmly closed, and squinted through the other. Why she thought this would change anything she had no idea, but she wasn’t ready for the reality of full-on vision.

A few days after the funeral, they’d returned in a taxi, his mum insisting on carrying his urn in her capacious handbag. Unfortunately, the driver took a speed bump a little too fast and the contents of the urn upturned and mixed with the contents of the aforementioned bag. Thus, Gary’s remains were scooped back into the receptacle along with ancient biscuit crumbs, loose change and a couple of mangled Werther’s Originals.

You just farted! Silent but deadly. Christ, Hats, I might be on the other side but that could fell North Korea. Or serve as their nuclear deterrent.

Jeez, bro. You took your time getting that off your chest! I had you down as a bottom bandit for – ooh! – at least three years.

The last she’d heard – they hadn’t seen each other for more than five years – he’d moved to Switzerland where he was something big in private banking… Cat allowed herself a small grin as she recalled Hattie insisting that a ‘w’ was more appropriate than a ‘b’.

 Part 2

Gary did the finger thing, which looked more like an ‘up yours’ than the three-fingered salute synonymous with the organisation.  Cat doubted he’d ever been a Boy Scout. More like a street gang member, all swagger and lager.    

It’s been a very long time… but they say it’s like riding a bike.  Although we might have to go through a few gears to hit our stride.

Stewart looked uncomfortable at her question. Seeing him squirm in his seat was akin to watching a politician being grilled about dodgy expense claims.    

Lost her husband? How she hated that phrase. As if she’d misplaced him, like a house key or a phone.  

There was nothing wrong with Roger; he was just a million miles from right. Maybe his perfect match was in French Polynesia, patiently weaving a hair garland and dreaming of a man with cartoon character undies.

How he could display remarkable dexterity when shooting down villains on Play Station yet miss the toilet bowl by inches when peeing was another of life’s mysteries.  

My Review:

The Haunting of Hattie Hastings was a delightful and witty treat. Part 1 was a quick and fun read that had me primed and eager for the rest of the series. Part 2 added several new wrinkles and concerns, some of which squeezed my heart. Death has always been a difficult and uncomfortable process for me to work through, it was how I knew the medical field was not for me and brought about a swift change in career planning. I don’t know how I would handle Hattie’s conundrum of a deceased husband who has not… departed, yet isn’t an angel or a zombie. I smirked and giggled-snorted over the witty twist used for a child’s orange-faced troll doll named Grump, who was named for the man he resembles in the media. Snort.

I enjoyed the unique storylines, endearing and quirky characters, and Ms. Davis’s amusing and clever humor. I started this series knowing it was a serial of three parts, so I was prepared and braced for the cliffhanger endings. I was warned to ward off a possible… okay, probable tantrum. And, score! I have a new addition to my Brit vocabulary list with doolally, which means Mr. Google told me was “temporarily deranged or feebleminded.” Which is how cliffhangers generally make me feel ;) I am extremely eager for Part 3 to magically appear on my Kindle. Hurry Ms. Davis, please!

Empress DJ

About Audrey Davis

Audrey Davis survived secondary 
school on the West coast of Scotland. Rubbish at science but not too bad at English, she originally wanted to be an actress but was persuaded that journalism was a safer option. Probably wise. She studied at Napier College in Edinburgh, the only place in Scotland at that time to offer a journalism course.

Her first foray into the hard-nosed newspaper world was as a junior reporter in Dumfriesshire. Duties included interviewing farmers about the prize-winning heifers to reporting on family tragedies. She persuaded her editor to let her launch an entertainment column which meant meeting the odd celebrity – or just the downright odd. From there, she moved to the loftier rank of senior reporter back in her home patch. Slightly more money, less farm animals but a higher crime rate. As Taggart would say: 'There's been a murrrrder!'

After a stint in London on a video magazine – yes, she is that old – Audrey moved to Singapore with her fiancĂ©. She tried valiantly to embrace the stinking heat, humidity and lack of jobs, although she did work briefly on a magazine which was banned by the government for 'artistic' use of naked men's bottoms.

Next on her adventures was a land Down Under where her main focus was raising Cost Centre One (aka firstborn) and coming to terms with the imminent arrival of Number Two. Still, she loved the Aussie way of life – BBQs, beaches and bring your own booze to restaurants – so it came as a blow when OH announced a move back to the UK. Not a job between them, the climate a possible deal breaker and an Exorcist-style vomiting infant on the flight home didn't bode well …

Always a survivor, Audrey sought out similar-minded friends (i.e. slightly bonkers), got the children into a good school and thought about taking up writing again. Sadly, thinking about it was as far as she got, unless you count shopping lists. Then, hubby drops another bombshell. Switzerland. As in – it's packing time again. Off to the land of cheese, chocolate, scarily efficient trains and a couple of teeny, tiny issues. Like driving on the 'wrong' side of the road and speaking a foreign language (French). The former was conquered fairly quickly (we'll skip over the wall demolition in week two), the latter remains an ongoing battle of the hopeful against the hopeless. At least she provides amusement for the local workforce.
It wasn't until 2016 that Audrey rediscovered her writing mojo with an online Writing Fiction course. From there, her first novel – A Clean Sweep – was born, although it took a bit longer than nine months from conception. A short, darker prequel – A Clean Break – followed, and in November 2017 she published the first in a novella trilogy, The Haunting of Hattie Hastings Part One. Part Two is published on 21 March 2018, with the conclusion following in May/June. After which she might have a wee lie down …

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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Book Review: No Comment by Graham Smith

No Comment

The Major Crimes Team - A DI Harry Evans novella

by Graham Smith

When a single mother, Julie Simon, is found in her kitchen with a stab wound to her stomach, Cumbria’s Major Crimes Team are handed the case. Under the supervision of DI Campbell and with advice from his former DI, Harry Evans, DC Amir Bhaki fights to discover who assaulted an innocent woman and left her with life-threatening injuries.

Nothing is as it first appears and when the team looks into Julie’s life they uncover a hidden sex-life that may just hold the key to the identity of her attacker.

Purchase from Amazon UK -

Purchase from Amazon. Com -

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

He knew better than to assume that a good family meant he was a good citizen. Some of the most evil people he’d encountered were from decent families. They would present one face to the world and another to their victims. Their status in life a shield they would hide behind until it was time to swing a sword in private.

That one sentence about female cops explained to Campbell just why such an outwardly attractive man needed to use Tinder to get laid.

The public couldn’t, and probably shouldn’t, know how much investigating certain crimes took from coppers.  How there were sleepless nights and nightmares when sleep did come. How relationships failed and how solace was sought at the bottom of a bottle. Sometimes coppers chose drink, and sometimes drink chose them.

My Review:

This was my first experience with Mr. Graham Smith and his unusual yet compelling assortment of coppers who were working under new leadership.  The premise was unique and relevant and the storylines were active and cunningly crafted while giving the reader a chance to learn the quirks and personalities of the squad while they were tasked with a puzzling crime.  Each member was required to employ their unique skills and personal hidden talents that maybe shouldn’t be looked at too closely, but all their tricks were needed to dig deep and unearth a more devastating and disturbing problem than they had initially anticipated.   And I proudly add a new word to my Brit vocabulary list with woodentops – an informal and not so polite term for a British uniformed officer.  

Empress DJ

About Graham Smith

Graham Smith is a time served joiner who has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000, he has been the manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

He is an internationally best-selling Kindle author and has four books featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team, and three novels, featuring Utah doorman, Jake Boulder.

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website since 2009

Graham is the founder of Crime and Publishment, a weekend of crime-writing classes which includes the chance for attendees to pitch their novels to agents and publishers. Since the first weekend in 2013, eight attendees have gone on to sign publishing contracts.

Graham can be found at