Category Archives: #amreading

Val Penny brings us Hunter’s Christmas and other stories


I’m thrilled to be part of this blog tour of short stories penned by Val Penny. New and old characters are found between the pages. The first story, Hunter’s Christmas, is a tie-in to her DI Hunter Crime Series.
Val Penny


Val Penny


DI Hunter Wilson is looking forward to spending a holiday in India with his girlfriend Dr Meera Sharma, away from the cold, wet winter of Edinburgh. He looks to share his happiness with others when he is attacked by Santa Claus, he says.

His team swing into action to catch his attackers but then receive information about an elf found dead in a car park and a car stolen by Mrs Claus.

Are the crimes by these Christmas characters connected?

Can Hunter’s team restore peace and good will to Christmas?

Hunter’s Christmas and Other Stories includes tales about DI Hunter Wilson and DS Jane Renwick along with those about new and different characters in this gripping collection of short stories especially for crime fiction readers.

My Review

I found this collection of short stories most entertaining. I admit I was partial to the stories with characters from Val’s DI Hunter Wilson series, and its spin-off series featuring Jane Renwick and Rachael.

I loved the tie-in with Hunter’s Christmas to the sixth book in the series, Hunter’s Rules. Not sure if that classifies as a spoiler or not, but you can read the short story without having read the book or vice versa with no compromise.

Entertaining shorts. Just what a body needs after the Christmas holidays.

Book Links

About Val Penny

Val Penny

Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats.

She has a Llb from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer.

However she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. Her crime novels, The DI Hunter Wilson and Jane Renwick Thrillers, are published by SpellBound Books.

Author Links

Website –

Amazon Author Page –

Author Facebook Page –

Author Twitter Page –  @valeriepenny

Author Instagram Page –

Her Mother’s Daughter by Brian O’Rourke

I’m pleased to be part of the book tour for Her Mother’s Daughter by Brian O’Rourke.
mother's daughter




mother's daughter

Amanda writes dark fiction. Now one fan is bringing her work to life.

Amanda is enjoying her life – she’s a successful author who has finally managed to give up her day job.

But then an ex-colleague is murdered in an exact reenactment of a killing from one of Amanda’s books. Even worse, Amanda had publicly quarreled with the dead woman and now finds herself a person of interest to the police.

Then it happens a second time. Another person with whom Amanda had publicly fought is murdered. And again, the method used to kill is lifted straight from the pages of one of her books.

It’s clear that someone is out to get Amanda. But who? And why?

With the police seeing her as the prime suspect, Amanda is desperate to discover the person behind these grisly killings.

As she digs for the truth, Amanda is forced to look into her own family’s troubled past, where she uncovers a web of secrets and lies far more shocking than anything she has ever written…

Her Mother’s Daughter – the chilling psychological thriller from the best-selling author of The New Husband and The Only Son.

My Review

This book hooked me on page one and didn’t let go. Amanda, a crime novelist, has a painful past. Her mother has been running for years to avoid being captured and tried for murder. Now, people known to Amanda are being murdered and posed to match scenes in her crime novels. The murderer could be almost anyone. Her neighbour/best friend? Her fugitive mother? Her ex-boyfriend? The list of suspects is long, and the author kept me guessing right until he was ready to reveal who was behind these bizarre murders.

This is the first book I’ve read by Brian O’Rourke, and it certainly won’t be my last.

Book Links

Goodreads –

Buy Links –

About the Author

mother's daughter
Brian R. O’Rourke has been writing stories since he was eight years old. A lifelong, avid reader, Brian believes that fiction has the power to change the world. He enjoys spending time with his family, exercising, playing the violin, and golfing.

This is his third psychological thriller with Inkubator Books.

You can follow Brian on Instagram –

Topaz by Richard Robinson ~ #review #SpellBoundBooks




It’s the summer of 1995. The US Peace Envoy, Fred Martinson, begins to broker a peace deal for Northern Ireland. The world holds its breath as the first tentative steps are taken. Jones, an 18-year-old from suburban England, has stumbled through education and yearns to be a football reporter. He is offered a place at Milton College, a former secretarial school with a clandestine partnership with GCHQ in seeking the communication stars of the future.

Before he knows it, Jones has been recruited, paired with Jenny Richmond, who is every bit his equal, and sent to Northern Ireland to undertake skills development and resilience testing with the Young Communicators Unit (YCU).Training becomes a matter of life and death when a group of trainee spies learning on the job are betrayed to their death, and their most promising member, Isadora Brown, is taken hostage. MI5 and YCU are sent a video of her reading demands by a mysterious organisation called Red Line.What if a group of young trainees were forced onto the frontline to deal with one of the most sensitive issues in UK history? What if political relations were so sensitive at the end of The Cold War, that only a group of deniable students could change history and keep super powers from ruining the first steps of a peace deal in Northern Ireland?It’s a race against the clock to find and free Isadora, and make sure the US peace talks aren’t sent up in flames.But who, exactly, is betraying who?


PROLOGUE THE SOUND OF RUPTURED METAL FROM THE PARKING BAY GAVE WAY TO a horrific explosion as the Fiat burst through the hydraulic doors and its fuel tank spectacularly detonated. The flames burst high into the rafters of the warehouse and the press and terrified MI5 agent sprinted to the back of the room. The double doors leading to the main room were then kicked open and standing there was a single gunman in a paramilitary balaclava. He held a pistol and in one shot killed the policeman, who was already prostrate on the “oor from the impact of the car explod‐ ing. The gunman then looked around the room, he stared over at the assembled media with his gun still raised and without blinking picked out the agent who took a shot to the head and immediately collapsed.

Topaz knew that they were safe behind the metal fence at the top of the viewing gallery. They needed to stay quiet and motionless but all three were still peering over the balcony, trans!xed on the scene. Jones was sure one of the journalists had noticed them but the horror of the unfolding situation had kept their attention away from the figures hidden in the rafters.“Where is he?” shouted the gunman, with a clear and unmistakable English accent. Topaz recognised the voice.




TopazEspionage isn’t my go-to for reading, but the premise of this book piqued my curiosity.
The unrest between Ireland and Northern Ireland has always been there, but add in some paramilitary groups, terrorists, and trainee spooks, and it turns into quite the melting pot.
The author has done an excellent job of tying these elements together. Fiction spun around actual events.
After reading this book by Richard Robinson, I’ll be watching for more books by him.



Richard lives in East Anglia with his wife and two daughters. He is a trained journalist and spent his early years freelancing or in agency positions across the UK, including a stint in Northern Ireland in the mid-1990s. He then transferred to the third sector, working in charities focusing on issues as diverse as international development (in India and Bangladesh), air ambulance operations, music and the creative industries, mental health and homelessness. He also acted as Chief Executive of the Olympic Park charity during London 2012.

He is currently the CEO of Hourglass, the UK’s only charity focused on ending the abuse and neglect of older people, a job he applied for after a family experience of neglect.

Richard wrote his first novel in the early 2000s but this has yet to see the light of day. Instead, he started with a new idea in 2020 and Topaz was born. He has written two more in the Topaz Files series, Wild Flowers and The Mainstay, which are expected to be published in 2024. 

He is also happily in the dugout for Boxford Rovers F.C. on a Saturday, a committed cratedigger (vinyl collector) and can occasionally be seen in the stands at Loftus Road and Windsor Park.

Vanished by Theo Baxter

I love a good psychological thriller and Vanished by Theo Baxter is just that!

Theo Baxter


Maggie knows someone wants to hurt her daughter. So why will no-one help?

Single mother Maggie Conner struggles to raise her young daughter, Isabel, in a household ruled by her own abusive father.

Terrified for Isabel’s safety, Maggie realises that neither her cold, distant mother nor anyone else in town seem willing to help them.

Then Isabel starts to disappear for long periods, returning with no idea of where she has been or why.

And when Maggie tries to get outside help, doctors and psychologists seem strangely reluctant to get involved in Isabel’s case. Is someone threatening them so they’ll stay away?

Desperate to save her daughter, Maggie searches for answers. But the more she digs, the more she is forced to confront the secrets buried deep in her own past.

As Maggie’s whole world begins to unravel, can she find the strength to face the terrifying truth?

My Review

I’ve never read anything by Theo Baxter before, but the blurb for Vanished intrigued me. I wasn’t disappointed. It was a cracking, good read! The twists and turns kept me turning the virtual pages.
The characters are great – even the ones you want to hate, like Maggie’s abusive father.
Now that I’ve discovered Theo Baxter, I’ll be catching up with his novels.

Book Links


Buy Links:

About the Author

Theo BaxterTheo Baxter loves writing psychological suspense thrillers. It’s all about that last reveal that he loves shocking readers with.

He grew up in New York, where there was crime all around. He decided to turn that into something positive with his fiction.

His stories will have you reading through the night—they are very addictive!

You can find Theo online at:



A Secret to Die For ~ Ghostly Tales from the Therapist’s Couch Book 1

Secrets. We all have them. But is any one of them A Secret to Die For?

Secret to Die For

Book One from the series ‘Ghostly Tales From The Therapist’s Couch.’

Thomas is a well-renowned medium who often helps out Scotland Yard with their cold cases.

Joe, a reporter, trusted with a dangerous secret, flees to Scotland after his friend is murdered. Under police protection, he is pursued by the same hired assassin who is willing to do anything to prevent the Government’s secret from being revealed.

With this case weighing heavily on his thoughts, Thomas pays a visit to his friend and therapist, Ian Baker, for another session on this therapist’s couch!

Secret to Die For

My Review

Every now and then, I like to change things up a bit, and this short story fits the bill.
Thomas, a medium, takes us through a case he envisioned via a connection with a reporter from the past. He also takes his hypnotherapist along on this journey with a touch of his hand.
The story was fast-paced and kept me turning the virtual pages. I look forward to more in this series of Ghostly Tales from the Therapist’s Couch.

Book Links


About the Author

Secret to Die For I was born in 1969 in Sidcup, Kent. My father was a Chief Inspector in the Metropolitan police and my mother was a housewife. I grew up and went to school in Bexley, Kent. My love of writing started from a young age as I was always reading and had a creative mind. Teachers were impressed with my writing and moved me up to higher English groups. My writing was exhibited to the school. I am married to a teacher and have one son. I was a highly qualified independent driving instructor for 15 years. During this time, I studied hypnotherapy. I have always been writing stories and poetry for pleasure but over the past 6 years I took up writing in earnest in the hope of achieving publication which has always been my ambition. I draw inspiration from the people in my life and some of my own personal experiences.

DI Hunter Wilson is back in Hunter’s Blood by Val Penny #HUNTERSBLOOD

I’m happy to announce the forthcoming book in the DI Hunter Wilson Crime Series written by Val Penny.
DI Hunter Wilson

DI Hunter Wilson


DI Hunter Wilson never has just one problem to solve. Three elderly women he knows have died in mysterious circumstances. Hunter appears to be the only link. A little girl goes missing on a cold winter’s night. When his team discovers cocaine hidden at the farm where she was living, the search becomes even more urgent. Why did the women die? And what did the child witness? Hunter must find the answers to these questions to ensure his family and his city are safe.


DI Hunter Wilson

First off, let me say how much I love Val’s writing. Her setting of Edinburgh comes to life through her words. Her characters are believable, likeable, and some are just downright nasty.

In this 4th book of the series, DI Hunter Wilson and his team are tasked with solving the murders of three elderly women, one of which is his aunt.

I read this book a few years ago when Darkstroke released it, but I had forgotten how gripping it was until I read it again, now published by SpellBound Books Ltd. It was like settling in with an old friend. The characters and their foibles immediately found their way back into the forefront of my memory, and they, the crimes, and the setting kept me glued to the virtual pages until I reached the end.




DI Hunter Wilson

Val Penny has an Llb degree from the University of Edinburgh and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer but has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories, nonfiction books, and novels. Her novels are published by SpellBound Books Ltd. Val is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and their cat.



Author Facebook Page –

Author Twitter Page @valeriepenny

Author Instagram Page


Website –

Amazon Author Page –

The Nanny by Eleonor Samuel

Eleonor Samuel is a new author to me, but I’ll definitely be reading more of her books!


The Nanny . . .

India McKenzie lost her mother far too young. And now she’s lost her best friend, too.

She needs to escape, so she takes a job with a wealthy family.

They live in an isolated old manor house in the Derbyshire countryside. There’s never anyone around.

The parents are not exactly warm. It’s all piano practice and scheduling playdates.

Seven-year-old Alicia can be difficult sometimes, but really she’s just a sweet little girl who’s lonely. She needs a friend — not just a nanny.

Everyone says the grown-up son is dangerous. But India can’t help being drawn to him . . .

And there’s something no one talks about. A secret that this family will do anything to keep.

India became a nanny to finally find a family to call her own. Now that she’s found them — will they destroy her?

. . . She’s part of their family now.

Book Links

Goodreads –

Buy Link –

My Review

India needs to start a new life away from University in Leeds and finds herself employed as a Nanny for John and Julia Maine’s young daughter, Alicia.

It sounds straightforward, but it isn’t. India has secrets. The Maines have a skeleton or two in their closet, too. And then there’s the oldest son, Alex, who stays in the house for at least now.

Rumours and innuendo abound, and India has to determine which ones to believe and which not. If she isn’t careful, she could be in danger.

This book sucked me in from the beginning. I love psychological thrillers with plenty of suspicious characters, and this book had no shortage of them.

Just when I thought I had it all figured out, another twist took me in a different direction, and it wasn’t until the end that all was revealed.

Author Bio

Eleonor Samuel

Eleonor was born in Ely, Cambridgeshire, and grew up in the fens, attending the King’s School Ely before moving to Nottingham to study medicine. Since graduating in 2011, Eleonor has worked as a children’s doctor in a number of hospitals and pursued her love of writing alongside her medical career. She married her husband Tim in Ely Cathedral in 2014, and they now live in rural Nottinghamshire with their two young children.

Eleonor’s Links:




Eleonor Samuel

Eleonor Samuel

A facelift for the writing cave …

Since I moved into my writing cave, I’ve been using a variety of setups, not all of which were conducive to creativity. The only thing that remained constant was the IKEA desk which measured only 41 3/8″ x 19 5/8″. For just a laptop and a mousepad the space sufficed. But when a second monitor was added to the mix, and a cup warmer things began to get crowded. Plus it made it next to impossible to see my corkboard that was on the wall in front of my work surface.

On New Year’s Day, I got thinking why not go back to the setup I used when I worked from home in the kitchen office? External monitor and keyboard and use the ACER as just the brain. As in, keep the lid closed.

I was spoiled then with a 32″ curved monitor. I could have at least four windows on the screen at one time. Handy when you’re working with spreadsheets and other applications.

The kitchen office setup worked well and we had at least one extra monitor kicking around that was large enough it would allow me to have at least two applications open on it at the same time.

That monitor made its way back into my life and my writing cave. The trouble was, it took up the entire desk. There wasn’t even enough room to put a keyboard in front of it.

Part of the solution to that problem was a sheet of 3/4″ white melamine 60″ x 30″ that would sit on top of the desk. We could get such a beast at the local Home Depot, so off we went to get it the following day. While in the store, we picked up the wall mount for the monitor. It meant my corkboard had to come down and get moved to another location, but that was minor.

It wasn’t so much the huge monitor itself that took up a ton of space, but the stand it sat on. It was big and heavy and took up too much room.

writing cave

With the new writing cave setup, I have plenty of room in front of the wall-mounted monitor for my MacBook which I use for writing.

writing cave

There’s even enough room for it and the additional screen I bought for when I’m editing.

writing cave

And then Windows for all my other tasks – social media, puzzles, weather-watching, etc.

My corkboard was mounted on the wall beside the desk. It meant I had to take the pictures down and put them back up again because it went from its original landscape orientation to portrait. But, the entire thing is visible! I don’t have to stretch or crane my neck to see around computers to see it. The pictures aren’t up-to-date, but I love Quebec City so don’t mind them being there.

writing cave

And then there’s my reading nook. A comfy chair where I can relax and read, either under the light of the floor lamp behind it

writing cave

or the under-cabinet lighting. I’ve since brought in a faux fur blanket to cover my legs with when I’m comfortably ensconced in my chair.

And I have lots of furry friends to keep my company while I’m holed away in the writing cave, too.

Now that I’m retired, I’ll be spending even more time in here than I did before.

Hunter’s Chase by Val Penny #HUNTERSCHASE

Hunter’s Chase Audible Tour

Hunter’s Chase, book 1 in the Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series, written by Val Penny is now available as an audiobook through Audible.

Val Penny


Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until Edinburgh is safe.

Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson knows there is a new supply of cocaine flooding his city, and he needs to find the source, but his attention is transferred to murder when a corpse is discovered in the grounds of a golf course.

Shortly after the post-mortem, Hunter witnesses a second murder, but that is not the end of the slaughter. With a young woman’s life also hanging in the balance, the last thing Hunter needs is a new man on his team: Detective Constable Tim Myerscough, the son of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable Sir Peter Myerscough.

Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this first novel in The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series.

Val Penny


Well plotted and fast-paced. I loved this book! al Penny wrote a fantastic debut novel. I can’t wait to read more DI Hunter Wilson stories.

This is my first time listening to an audiobook, so I’m glad it was one I was familiar with. I loved the narrator. Give me a man with a Scottish accent and I’m automatically in swoon mode. If there was a downside to the book, I found the breaks between chapters a wee bit too long. As I said, it was my first time with an audiobook so perhaps that’s the industry standard. Also, in one of the later chapters (I’m sorry I didn’t make note of it at the time), the narrator started a sentence and then started it over again.

I can’t wait for the rest of the Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series to be available in audio format.


Hunter’s Chase Audible


Val Penny

Val Penny’s other crime novels, Hunter’s Chase Hunter’s Revenge, Hunter’s Force Hunter’s Blood, and Hunter’s Secret form the bestselling series The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries. They are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by darkstroke. Her first non-fiction book Let’s Get Published is also available now and she has most recently contributed her short story, Cats and Dogs to a charity anthology, Dark Scotland.

Val is an American author living in SW Scotland with her husband and their cat.

You can connect with Val at the following links:


Facebook Author Page:


Friends of Hunter Wilson & The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries:

Val’s Book Bundle:



Amazon Author Page:


Val Penny


Evie Baxter’s novel, An Italian Affair, goes on tour

XPRESSO TOURS presents An Italian Affair by Evie Baxter #bookblitz #giveaway



Having suffered through a recent humiliating break up, I wasn’t ready to dive back into the dating game. I thought I was off men, but then along came Sandro de Luca. Gorgeous temptation in a suit. I worked on a ship. He lived in Venice. There was no way a relationship could work between us. But a summer affair might be just what was called for.⁣


⁣My attraction to Ella had an incendiary chemistry that couldn’t be denied. She didn’t want a commitment. I wanted to imprint myself on her soul. I was determined to make her mine, even if life was continually throwing obstacles in my path. Some things were worth fighting for.⁣

⁣Don’t miss out on An Italian Affair by @eviebaxter! Get it FREE on #KindleUnlimited


⁣⁣⁣#Bibliophile #Bookshelf #BookClub #Bookish #Booksy #BookNerd #BookWorm #ireadromance #romance #contemporaryromance #eviebaxter #XpressoTours @XpressoTours #BookBlogger #BookQueen #BookLove #BookStack #GoodReads #BookShark #BookCommunity #ReadersOfInstagram #BookBabe #Reading #BookAesthetic #BookishPost

Book & Author Details:

An Italian Affair
by Evie Baxter
Publication date: May 31st, 2021
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Extract from – Chapter Seven

As we descended from the rooftop back to the restaurant, the feel of Sandro’s eyes on my back was visceral. The luncheon had been wonderful despite my momentary discomfort when he had touched my back and kissed my neck. He thought it was because I was leary of men after what Alex did to me. And maybe partly it was.

More like I was so overwhelmed by my reaction to Sandro that I didn’t know what to do. He was a stranger. I had barely known him a few hours. But when his knuckles brushed down the length of my spine, exposed by the design of the dress, my knees had weakened and my breath quickened. It had been so unexpected and so sensual. I just had to think about his actions and the hairs on my arms stood on end and my belly shuddered as I relived his touch.

His lips on my nape? Bloody hell! It was the lightest of touches but enough that I felt their firm press, his breath tickling the little hairs at the base of my hairline, the whisper of a sigh from his lips as they met my skin. The rasp of his beard tickling my nerve endings. I had felt my nipples tighten in response and the surge of heat that flowed through my body and straight between my legs was startling. If that was what the lightest of kisses could do, then what the hell would a full-on assault accomplish?

I didn’t think the man realised the power he had over me already. It was scary, and tantalising. It stirred my interest to find out more. It had been a long time since I had indulged in casual sex, not since my university days. Ships were a morass of gossip and sex, everyone knew everyone, and if you slept with someone it was almost guaranteed someone else on board had as well. There was no avoiding it, so I had been much more circumspect in my relationships since going to sea.

But would I consider breaking all my rules and having an affair with someone shoreside. I had never been tempted. Until now. Sandro brought out my sensual nature in a way that was impossible to ignore. The way I reacted to him was all the more obvious to me because not once had Alex stirred such physical responses in the time I spent with him.

About the Author

Evie lives in the countryside close to Oxford where she writes stories, accompanied by her eldest daughter’s very fluffy cat. When not writing she can be found ignoring housework, reading voraciously, feeding her family and hanging out with the alpacas at the farm behind her house. Before settling in the countryside, she travelled the world working on cruise ships and doing stuff like jumping out of airplanes, cycling around South Pacific Islands and taking helicopters over glaciers and volcanoes.

Author links:



Enter the giveaway for your chance to win an ebook copy of An Italian Affair by Evie Baxter.

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