#BlogTour #Review: The Controller by Matt Brolly #CrimeFiction #TheController #LynchandRose @MattBrollyUK @damppebbles #damppebblesblogtours


Toady I am honoured to be taking part in the blog tour for Matty Brolly’s latest psychological thriller The Controller. Buckle up your seat belts kids, and keep all hands and feet inside the vehicle, as Lynch and Rose are about to take you on one wild ride.

Controller_book_cover_6x9_v2Title: The Controller

Author: Matt Brolly

Publisher: Oblong Books

Publication Date: May 24, 2019

Genre: Fiction, Crime Fiction, Thriller, Psychological Thriller


Features: N/A

My Rating: 5/ 5


From the bestselling author of the acclaimed DCI Lambert series comes The Controller, a gripping serial killer thriller introducing Sam Lynch and Special Agent Sandra Rose.

It is six years since special agent Samuel Lynch left the FBI following the disappearance of his son, Daniel. Lynch believes an underground organisation known as The Railroad is responsible and has never stopped searching.

When Special Agent Sandra Rose investigates a house invasion gone wrong, she discovers the assailant has the legendary, and infamous, Railroad tattoo carved onto his back and he claims to know Daniel’s whereabouts.

Rose draws Lynch in to her case, and together they become embroiled in an unparalleled world of violence and evil.

It seems that to see his son again, Lynch will have to confront his greatest fear and face the ultimate test: an encounter with the Railroad’s enigmatic and deadly leader, The Controller.

My Review

This baby is all action from the word go, starting with Lynch’s unceremonious removal from his apparent in the opening pages to a quadruple homicide, and then from a dark-ops compound invasion to parallel investigations into a clandestine criminal organization known as the Railroad, The Controller is all action and no filler – steak with a side of steak my friends, you can forget the veg. That’s not to say that it’s not loaded with strong and compelling characters, because it is, but rather that the details of Sandra Rose and Samuel Lynch are integrated into the thick of action adding some depth and feeling to the abundance of adrenaline.

And speaking of Rose and Lynch, there is nothing I love more in an investigative thriller than when the lead investigator is genuinely committed to their cause, so much so that their actions are basically criminal. So you can imagine my delight in the fact Lynch and Rose offer a double dose of dubious determination. Both are chasing down the same big bad with some very different motivations, and because their approaches are so different from one another there’s almost no overlap between their journeys or the challenges encountered.  The result is that their stories always run in tandem with one another and offer a carefully curated selection of sub-plots that complement rather than detract from the main action. My only real beef is that we didn’t get to see more of Sam’s ex, Sally, as they obviously shared a defining experience together. However, I have my fingers crossed that this is the first in a new series and they her character will some further development and resolution later down the line.

With Lynch’s broken family and unsealing grief or Rose’s ailing mother and lonely dedication to her job there was so much potential this to read like a sob story. And yet Brolly’s writing never strays into the woe-is-me territory. Instead both of our leads have taken their knocks, stood back up, and transformed into some serious badasses – maybe poor decision makers (who agrees to meet with a known serial killer without notifying ANYONE?!) but definitely badass.

I really appreciated Rose’s persistence to follow the investigation where it needed to go and not where her superiors thought that it could be neatly bundled up, and Lynch’s determination not to let his son’s disappearance be added to the ranks of unsolved abductions. It really highlights how pressure from above, limited resources, or even the denial of inconvenient truths can shape not only the outcome of events, but also how facts and occurrences are packaged and presented to the world. Granted, there are times where The Controller borders on full-on conspiracy theory and cover-up territory, but everything is so well put together that it leave you guessing whether or Miller is just a difficult boss or actually stuck in the thick of it.

I enjoyed the premise of all these disappearances being linked to railroad tracks and that a larger organization was responsible for coordinating the abductions. It’s a little extreme, but not so much so that your won’t be able to stop yourself from having a few ‘I wonder…” moments. And while I pitied the treatment Lynch received while he was working for the bureau, his persistence paid off in the way that only a true David vs. Goliath story can. It just goes to show that all it takes is one determined person who refuses to give up, and eventually event the toughest nut can be cracked.

They do not lie when they say The Controller is a psychological thriller, so be prepared to be taken on a wild ride. The mystery is deep, layered, and borderline conspiratorial and just the type of crazy that will keep the pages turning until the wee hours of the morning.  The Controller is a psychotic mastermind who think he’s above his own game and will stop at nothing when it comes to toying with his favourite prey. Be prepared to double guess everything… and trust no one.

Would I recommend this book? Without question! It’s fast-paced, riveting, and completely unpredictable. Read it crime lovers, it’ll be a better decision than any Lynch will ever make.

About The Author

matt brollyFollowing his law degree where he developed an interest in criminal law, Matt Brolly completed his Masters in Creative Writing at Glasgow University. He is the bestselling author of the DCI Lambert crime novels, Dead Eyed, Dead Lucky and Dead Embers. The fourth in the series, Dead Time, was released by Canelo in May 2018 and a prequel, Dead Water, will be published in September 2019. In 2020 the first of a new crime series set in the West Country of the UK will be released by Thomas and Mercer (Amazon Publishing).

The Controller, released in May 2019, is the first of a new thriller series set in Texas. Matt also writes children’s books as M.J. Brolly. His first children’s book, The Sleeping Bug, was released by Oblong Books in December 2018. Matt lives in London with his wife and their two young children. You can find out more about Matt at his website MattBrolly.co.uk or by following him on twitter: @MattBrollyUK

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MattBrollyUK @MattBrollyUK

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mattbrollyauthor/

Website: https://www.mattbrolly.co.uk/

Many thanks to Emma Welton at Damppebbles Blog Tours for inviting me to join in this tour and for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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#BlogTour #Review: Your Deepest Fear by David Jackson #CrimeFiction #Thriller #YourDeepestFear @Author_Dave @BonnierZaffre @Tr4cyF3nt0n

David Jackson Blogtour Poster 2

Today I have the pleasure of taking part in the blog tour for David Jackson’s latest crime thriller Your Deepest Fear. Dark and twisty with a healthy dose of ‘don’t read this book alone or at night’, DS Nathan Cody will take you down the rabbit hole and there’s no guarantee that you’re coming back again.

Your Deepest Fear.jpgTitle: Your Deepest Fear

Author: David Jackson

Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre

Publication Date: May 16, 2019

Genre: Fiction, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural

Themes: Friendship, Relationships, Crime, Serial Killers

Features: N/A

My Rating: 4.5/ 5


‘Sara! Remember! Victoria and Albert. All I can say. They’re here. They’re-‘

These are the last words Sara Prior will ever hear from her husband.

As DS Nathan Cody struggles to make sense of the enigmatic message and solve the brutal murder, it soon becomes clear that Sara is no ordinary bereaved wife.

When Sara decides to take the investigation into her own hands, she is drawn into a world of violence that will lead her in a direction she would never have suspected.

For DS Cody, meanwhile, things are about to get personal in the darkest and most twisted way imaginable . . .

Your Deepest Fear is a dark, shocking and relentlessly gripping thriller that will keep you up all night, until the very final page has been turned.

My Review

Okay, if you are someone (like me) who is petrified of clowns, this may not be the book for you. Here I am happily reading a delightful police procedural about a mildly stalker-ish woman who finds her husband murdered by way of being nailed to the floor and BAM! In come the clowns. Of course, I would have known this well in advance if I’d read the first book in the DS Nathan Cody series, but yeesh! The first time our friend Waldo made an in-the-flesh appearance I legit screamed, threw my book across the room, my heart-rate monitor indicated that I was at peak cardio activity sat on the couch, and my poor pooch started checking all of the doors in a rare guarding moment.

Seriously not cool.

But also, so damn good.

Once I got over the shock of Waldo’s presence in the story I ending up loving this book. DS Nathan Cody was just the right level of functionally dysfunctional and Sara Prior was seriously bad-ass. Supported by a dynamic cast of secondary characters including underworld scum who surprisingly enjoy watching cat video’s between beat-downs, sweet but socially awkward computer techs who are probably never going to invite a man over ever again, and a psychologist who apparently doesn’t have a clue what her client is genuinely going through there is never a dull moment.

Waldo’s game is one I would certainly never like to play, and it’s easy to see why DS Cody was starting to loose sleep over his interactions with this psychopath. The thought of someone coming into my house on the regular and breathing down the phone a all hours of the night seriously gave me the heebie-jeebies, and that’s just the kid stuff my friends – no spoilers here! The torture Waldo doles out is diabolic and sadistic, so much so that I couldn’t keep track of all the layers of manipulation or where the story going. I got so wrapped up in rooting for Cody’s success that I was utterly dismayed with every setback and twist in the plot. I love a book where I can’t guess the ending, and this one certainly hit that mark.

But it was Sara’s approach to solving her husband’s murder that truly kept me entranced.  Her straight forward hit first and ask questions later approach had me in stitches more times than I can remember. I adored how she gave zero shits about which pot she was stirring, and somehow managed to create chaos in the criminal underworld with maximum efficiency. No one puts baby in the corner, but Sara Prior puts little boys playing at being thugs precisely where there belong.

The intertwined plots created a dynamic and gripping read. The mirrored scavenger hunts and mutual refusal to accept or ask for assistance created a sense of camaraderie and an overwhelming sense of vigilante justice at it’s finest. I was constantly on my toes and there were far more ups than down leading to a somewhat frenetic, but ultimately exhilarating pace.

I loved the writing style, with realistic language and human interactions. But with that being said, it’s certainly not simple – in fact there are numerous plays on words, intentional misunderstandings, and double entendres. There’s as much humour as there is thrill, which I really appreciated as these moments were tactfully delivered follow the darker and more heady passages. Ultimately, Your Deepest Fear is dynamic, engaging, and horrifying all at the same time.

Would I recommend this book? Hells yes – even with the clowns.

About The Author

davidjacksonDavid Jackson is the bestselling author of Cry Baby and Don’t Make A Sound. His debut novel, Pariah, was Highly Commended in the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Daggers Awards. He lives on the Wirral peninsula with his wife and two daughters.

Follow David on twitter @Author_Dave.

To join in the conversation use the hashtag #YourDeepestFear

Many thanks to Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Readers for inviting me to join in this tour and for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.


#BlogTour #Review: Trickster by Sam Michaels #HistoricalFiction #CrimeFiction @SamMichaelsGG

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Today I am over the moon to be taking part in the blog tour for Trickster by Sam Michaels. Gritty, raw, and rooted in London’s seedy underbelly this tale of trauma and survival will have you turning the pages at a breakneck pace!

Book cover.jpgTitle: Trickster

Author: Sam Michaels

Publisher: Aria Press

Publication Date: April 16, 2019

Genre: Fiction, Crime Fiction, Historical Fiction

Themes: Friendship, Relationships, Crime

Features: N/A

My Rating: 4.5/ 5


To be ruthless is to be powerful, at least it is on the Battersea streets…

Georgina Garrett was born to be ruthless and she’s about to earn herreputation.

As World War One is announced a baby girl is born. Little do people know that she’s going to grow up to rule the streets of Battersea. From a family steeped in poverty the only way to survive is with street smarts.

With a father who steals for a living, a grandmother who’s a woman ofthe night and a mother long dead, Georgina was never in for an easy life. But after a tragic event left her father shaken he makes a decision that will change the course of all their lives – to raise Georgina as George, ensuring her safety but marking the start of her life of crime…

My Review

Okay, if you’re looking for a happy, hopeful read you should walk away right now. I mean really, what do you expect from a book that opens with an impoverished mother dying during child birth? But, if you’re looking for strong characters, a touch of adventure, and a bit of grafting it out, this is the book for you!

Full of honourable villains, true friends, and even the embodiment of pure evil there’s rarely a dull moment. I adored the cast of central characters with the strong wiled Dulcie, wily Jack, despicable Percy, fragile yet loving Ruby, and the spunky and tenacious George/ Georgina.

It was fun watching George grow up, although some of the events she had to endure were less than comfortable to read. Yet despite it all her spunk was infectious. I loved how Jack went out of his way to not only protect his daughter but also to make sure that she could protect herself despite the gender norms of the day. I found it endearing how George took it upon herself to protect and empower those who didn’t know how to defend themselves, and how she chose her friends based character not their social standing.

And then there’s Billy Wilcox. I suppose he must have exceptionally well written as I spent the entirety of the novel waning to wring his neck! And his scenario was entirely believable – a prized son raised in a hard crime household, with a father often absent on business, constantly pressured to be tough and compassionless to keep up the family name, and left to run the streets with no supervision – yikes! Now add in the blindness of a mother’s  love, a hard neighbourhood, and an early exposure to regularized violence ad voila, you have a budding serial killer and sociopath.

At least Norman Wilcox was an arse with morals. After all, it’s one thing to do away with someone who crosses you in business (especially when you head a crime syndicate) or tries to kill you themselves, but it’s something else entirely to torture and kill for pleasure. Some of his actions made me grossly uncomfortable – but when the situations and characters get so deeply under your skin you know it’s a job well done.

My heart really went out to Fanny and Molly Mipple, and was surprised that it took so long for Mike Mipple to meet his fate. But, in a time when a marriage to an undesirable man was more preferable to being an unmarried mother, or worse divorced, it really drove home how hard it was for women (especially those without means) between the wars.

Brutal or no, none of the scenarios felt contrived. Perhaps the only thing that really ruffled my feathers was some of the typecasting such as Ezzy the Jew who dealt in stolen jewellery, or Lash the traveller who made his living in bare-knuckles boxing. And yet, I couldn’t decide if I was offended by the typecasting, or if it was a genuine representation of the positions available to these people, at this time, and in this place. It probably doesn’t help Lash’s case that I was annoyed by the fact that after George made it so far as strong and independent woman, that he so easily swept her off her feet. I was surprised by George’s acknowledged need for a man’s protection and the security that their relationship offered, and I was left on the fence as to whether or not this was George taking the easy route or if she was making a calculated decision that garnered her more power on the street. But, I suppose even the strongest people need to be loved, and I can’t begrudge George’s affections!

Would I recommend this book? Oh hells yes! It’s quick paced, action packed, and full of strong and interesting characters. And, it’s a quick read – perfect for when you’re curled up beside the fire with a drink in hand. Read it my friends. For lovers of period pieces this is an absolute beauty!

About The Author

Sam Michaels

About the author:

Sam Michaels lives in Spain with her family and plethora of animals.
Having been writing for years Trickster is her debut novel.

Follow Sam:

Facebook: @SamMichaelsAuthor

Twitter: @SamMichaelsGG

Buy links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Upnb7S

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2UsPiTE

iBooks: https://apple.co/2HmWLA7

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2H8HrI3

Follow Aria

Website: http://www.ariafiction.com

Twitter: @aria_fiction

Facebook: @ariafiction

Instagram: @ariafiction

Many thanks to Victoria Joss at Aria Fiction for inviting me to join in this tour and for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.


#BlogTour #Review: The Librarian of Auschwitz by #HistoricalFiction #WWIIFiction


Today I am beyond thrilled to be taking part in the Blog Tour for The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio ItrubeThis exceptional work of historical fiction brings to life the sheer will of a young Jewish girl, her love for books, and an infectious desire to transform fear into survival. It is one of the best WWII fiction novels I’ve read in a goof long while, and I have no doubt that this baby is going to stay on my keep shelf for many, many years to come.

LibrarianTitle: The Librarian of Auschwitz

Author: Antonio Iturbe

Translator: Lilit Zekulin Thwaites

Publisher: Ebury Digital

Publication Date: April 4, 2019

Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, WWII Fiction

Themes: Friendship, Family, Relationships, WWII, Survival, the Holocaust

Features: Author’s Notes

My Rating: 5/ 5


From goodreads…

For readers of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Choice: this is the story of the smallest library in the world – and the most dangerous.

‘It wasn’t an extensive library. In fact, it consisted of eight books and some of them were in poor condition. But they were books. In this incredibly dark place, they were a reminder of less sombre times, when words rang out more loudly than machine guns…’

Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious books the prisoners have managed to smuggle past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the secret librarian of Auschwitz, responsible for the safekeeping of the small collection of titles, as well as the ‘living books’ – prisoners of Auschwitz who know certain books so well, they too can be ‘borrowed’ to educate the children in the camp.

But books are extremely dangerous. They make people think. And nowhere are they more dangerous than in Block 31 of Auschwitz, the children’s block, where the slightest transgression can result in execution, no matter how young the transgressor…

My Review

I loved this book.

I mean, I may have bawled my face off more times than I care to admit while I was reading it, but I loved this book.

I appreciated how right from the get-go that Itrube established that this book is a work of fiction, and as such cannot be read as fact. But also, how he made it clear that this particular work of fiction is inspired by real people, real events, and real suffering. It’s heartbreaking, uncomfortable, profound, and above all it’s undeniably inspiring. As a result I found the horrors depicted on the pages easier to pallet than pure fact, whist maintaining a feeling that every moment was grounded in reality.

Now, being a librarian I like me some research. And the depth of the research that went into The Librarian of Auschwitz was evident from the outset. With the scenes so painstakingly crafted as to engender dread, the hunger to set my tummy rumbling, and the tenderness to remind us that humanity can still exist in inhuman conditions I was completely swept away. And through it all, Block 31 remains a relief from the horrors of Auschwitz, a balm against the war, and a place where children get to be children if even just for a little while longer. That is not to say that the family camp and the school were naive to their situations or had any delusions about their situation, but just that it provided few beautiful hours of respite every day.

And as a fellow book lover, I felt an immediate connection to Dita and the passion that she held for her little library. I felt her love for the book as an object of escape, as person who could bring a story to life, as a path to enlightenment, and as vehicle for resistance in it’s simplest form. And through it all the power of words, of stories, remains a constant theme reminding us of why so many tyrants have sought to burn books and ban knowledge in their quests for power. In return for the hope, joy, and distraction that these books provide Dita lavishes them with the love and care that any being would need to survive in an extermination camp.

But the part that I loved above all else was how books were the balms to every evil that befell the family camp in BIIb. Mass liquidation? Tell a story. Can’t celebrate passover? Tell many stories. Caught in a living hell where surviving just one more day is a victory? Tell many stories, day after day, after day. Do not let them die. Seek more stories, more books, more living libraries, and spread ALL of the words.

It broke my heart, however, to follow all of the disparate characters through their painfully real experiences and to their ends. From the stoic yet tragic optimism and dedication of Freddy Hirsch to the desperation and disillusionment of Rudi Rosenberg, The Librarian of Auschwitz is equal parts horror and hope. The characters provide a balance to one another with Leisl’s silence countering Dita’s quick wit, Morgenstern’s lightheartedness to Hirsch’s determination, and the innocent joy of the children to the oppressive weight carried by their parents.

Carefully crafted, expertly written and beautifully translated I would recommend The Librarian of Auschwitz to just about anyone. It is real and it is horrible, and yet it remains human and passionate and pure of heart. I love that love found a way to flourish in a living hell, that families found a way to stay loyal and strong, and that for once a few books get to stand alongside the heroes of the story.

Read it book lovers. This baby earns every bit of it’s 5 stars.


Antonio Iturbe lives in Spain, where he is both a novelist and a journalist. In researching The Librarian of Auschwitz, he interviewed Dita Kraus, the real-life librarian of Auschwitz. Lilit Zekulin Thwaites is an award-winning literary translator. After thirty years as an academic at La Trobe University in Australia, she retired from teaching and now focuses primarily on her ongoing translation and research projects. Dita Kraus was born in Prague. In 1942, when Dita was thirteen years old , she and her parents were deported to Ghetto Theresienstadt and later to Auschwitz,. Neither of Dita’s parents survived. After the war Dita married the author Otto B. Kraus. They emigrated to Israel in 1949, where they both worked as teachers They had three children. Since Otto’s death in 2000 , Dita lives alone in Netanya. She has four grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Despite the horrors of the concentration camps, Dita has kept her positive approach to life.

Many thanks to Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Readers for inviting me to join in this tour.


#BlogTour #Review: Born Bad by Heather Burnside @heatherbwriter @aria_fiction

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Today I am thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Born Bad by Heather Burnside. The first book in the gritty Manchester Trilogy, this baby will transport you into 80s gangland, tug at your heartstrings, and stoke the fires of rage all in a matter of pages. If you like complex family dramas with a healthy does of crime, this is an absolute must read.

Book cover-2Title: Born Bad

Author: Heather Burnside

Publisher: Aria Press

Publication Date: July 1, 2017

Genre: Fiction, Crime Fiction, Gangland Lit

Themes: Friendship, Family, Relationships, Crime

Features: N/A

My Rating: 4/ 5


Brother and sister Peter and Adele Robinson never stood a chance. Dragged up by an alcoholic, violent father, and a weak, beaten mother, their childhood in Manchester only prepared them for a life of crime and struggle. But Adele is determined to break the mould. She studies hard at school and, inspired by her beloved grandmother Joyce, she finally makes a successful life for herself on her own.

Peter is not so lucky. Getting more and more immersed in the murky world of crime and gangs, his close bonds with Adele gradually loosen until they look set to break altogether.

But old habits die hard, and one devastating night, Adele is forced to confront her violent past. Dragged back into her worst nightmares, there’s only one person she can turn to when her life is on the line – her brother Peter. After all, blood is thicker than water…

My Review

I don’t normally enjoy family dramas, but Born Bad managed to break through my crusty outer shell and niggle it’s way into my heart. Within the first few pages I was willing to hand over all of my sympathy to Adele and her mother, my screw-you spirit to Peter, and my unfettered disdain towards Tommy. And the best part was that I never once felt as though their stories were tiresome.

I appreciated Adele’s grit and determination when it came to rising above her circumstances, and yet she embodied everything that can be read into the nature versus nurture argument. My heart broke a little every time she got into a fight at school or had a row with a boyfriend, and even more so whenever she lost patience with her mother. Regardless, Adele’s experiences really caused me to think critically about how often we take the time to be with our extended families, how close we are with our siblings, and the ways in which we talk to our parents.

I was a little repulsed by Peter at the start but by the end of the book my opinions of him were completely changed. And the best part was that I never once felt pity for him. Despite the horrid things that Peter endured at the hands of both his father and a particularly judgemental community, he remained strong (okay. maybe spiteful is the right word) and always managed to make the best of his situation. It seemed natural that he not only fell into the world of crime but also that he excelled at it.

As crappy as many of the situations and circumstances were, every page oozed realism and believability as the Robinson family was painstakingly relatable. From Tommy’s drinking to Peter’s living rough in a slum, it hurts to know that these are every day occurrences for a great many people. Now, that’s not to say that growing up in a dysfunctional and violent family is any excuse for resorting to a life of crime, but it certainly makes all of their decisions understandable.

I will say though, that given the extensive focus on the Robinson family, with only a few forays in Peter’s life crime, that Born Bad is the foundational novel for the crime series that follows. It’s deep, gritty, and uncomfortable in all of the best ways. It pulls you in, makes you think, and spits you out the other side raw and emotional.

If you like a solid series with painfully real characters, I highly recommend Born Bad and the Manchester Trilogy. Read it crime lovers, and get a closer look at those mitigating circumstances!

About The Author

Heather Burnside

Heather Burnside spent her teenage years on one of the toughest estates in Manchester and she draws heavily on this background as the setting for many of her novels. After taking a career break to raise two children Heather enrolled on a creative writing course. Heather now works full-time on her novels from her home in Manchester, which she shares with her two grown-up children.

 Follow Heather:

Twitter: @heatherbwriter

Facebook: @HeatherBurnsideAuthor

Buy links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2TzpmbX

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2tFvKih

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2J06zCB

iBooks: https://apple.co/2IX25wo

Follow Aria

Website: http://www.ariafiction.com

Twitter: @aria_fiction

Facebook: @ariafiction

Instagram: @ariafiction

Many thanks to Victoria Joss at Aria Fiction for inviting me to join in this tour and for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.